Before Night Falls (2001)
Critic Consensus: An impressionistic, fragmented look at Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls' imagery manages to evoke a sense of the writer's artistry, and Bardem's strong performance holds the film together. Finally, a biopic done well.
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|Rating:||R (for strong sexual content, some language and brief violence)|
|Directed By:||Julian Schnabel|
|Written By:||Cunningham O'Keefe, Julian Schnabel, Lázaro Gómez Carriles, Lázaro Gómez Carriles|
|In Theaters:||Jan 12, 2001 Wide|
|On DVD:||May 22, 2001|
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as Reinaldo Arenas
as Lazara Gomez Carrile...
as Virgilio Pinera
as Lt. Victor/Bon Bon
as Pepe Malas
as Cuco Sanchez
as Heberto Zorilla Ocho...
as Reinaldo's Mother
as Teenage Reinaldo
as Fina Zorilla Ochoa
as Reinaldo's Father
as Reinaldo's Grandfath...
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Critic Reviews for Before Night Falls
In uniting to honor Arenas, Bardem and Schnabel create something extraordinary.
Clearly this is Bardem's show. And Bardem walks away with it.
This could have been a compelling movie about a wonderful writer, but instead it's a tedious, pointless mess. After spending over 2 hours with Arenas, I still knew nothing about him. Javier Bardem's great performance seemed to be a complete waste.
One of the first features about Castro's impact on artists and homosexuals, this biopic is well acted by Bardem
"Before Night Falls" exuberantly portrays a writer whose legacy remains an acutely observant childhood spirit that no perversion of politics could break. Javier Bardem blends the swagger of Robert Downey Jr. and the brooding of a young Al Pacino.
Audience Reviews for Before Night Falls
What a magnificent film. Julian Schnabel pulled off a real tour de force with "Before Night Falls," his second film. Gloriously artistic and gloriously humane, it tells the tragic but also uplifting story of Cuba's boy genius, the poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas, who was brutally mistreated by the bizarrely homophobic (one might even say proto-fascist) regime of Fidel Castro, heroically escaped, and then was mowed down by AIDS in the first wave of infections in the late 1980s.
Schnabel and lead actor Javier Bardem worked together beautifully to bring this man's story to life. Bardem is radiant with the joy of a young gay man coming out of the closet and feeling love for the first time. I presume Bardem is straight. To see a straight man find it with himself to feel this is tonic for the soul. Schnabel I believe is also straight. For two straight men to come together to tell the story of this flamboyant gay man and to do it in such a tender and loving way truly amazes.
Some straight men really can feel deep in their soul the anguish and gladness of gay men. Astonishing.
The only sadness to me is that in the past decade Schnabel has not been able to produce more work of this caliber. But we still owe him a real debt of gratitude for giving us this treasure. And my appreciation for Bardem just keeps getting greater. He is moving near the top of my list of Greatest Male Screen Actors in the World. He's got Marlon Brando in him, mixed with a delight in the world that reminds me at times of a butterfly. What an extraordinary mixture. It's as if he's both straight and gay.
When it comes to biopics, there are very few that stand out as masterpieces or true representations of the real-life counterparts. However, this manages to do just that. Javier Bardemâ??s interpretation of Reinaldo Arenas is amazing. To hear about the real life counterpart and then compare it to the film, itâ??s very hard to tell the difference. The parts of his struggle as a writer and as a person are extremely touching and an original way of approaching a coming of age story (which this is in a lot of ways). The cinematography is amazing, giving Cuba such a beautiful landscape. All the little cameos from actors such as Sean Penn and Johnny Depp are a nice touch, you can tell that they were fans of Arenas and his writing. Itâ??s just an all around great movie.
The narrative style is captivating, Julien Schnabel doesn't shy from showing the virtues and the vices of Reinaldo Arenas's literary circle. Arenas, a Cuban poet, confronts the Revolution he once believed in when persecution against homosexuals in Cuba becomes blatant. In a very Schnabel fashion, we find a character struggling to remain human in the midst of de-humanization, crisis, and humilliation. And not just any character, a poet. There is always the notion that tragedy and comedy, fun and pain, are inseparable and his life is irrefutable testament to it. Javier Bardem's performance is very powerful, sefless, and beautiful. There are appearances by other actors, more famous than he was at the time, but this is clearly his film.
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