Before Night Falls

2000, Gay & lesbian/Drama, 2h 12m

98 Reviews 10,000+ Ratings

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critics 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. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

A richly imagined journey into the life and writings of brilliant Cuban author and exile Reinaldo Arenas. It spans the whole of Arenas' life, from his rural childhood and his early embrace of the Revolution to the persecution he would later experience as a writer and homosexual in Castro's Cuba; from his departure from Cuba in the Mariel Harbor exodus of 1980 to his exile and death in the United States.

Cast & Crew

Javier Bardem
Reinaldo Arenas
Olivier Martinez
Lazaro Gomez Carilles
Johnny Depp
Bon Bon, Lieutenant Victor
Sean Penn
Cuco Sanchez
Michael Wincott
Herberto Zorilla Ochoa
Najwa Nimri
Fina Correa
Hector Babenco
Virgilio Pinera
Olatz Lopez Garmendia
Reinaldo's Mother
Vito Maria Schnabel
Teenage Reinaldo
Reynaldo Arenas
Writer
Lázaro Gómez Carriles
Writer
Matthias Ehrenberg
Associate Producer
Jon Kilik
Producer
Laurie Anderson
Additional Music
Lou Reed
Additional Music
Carter Burwell
Original Music
Xavier Grobet
Cinematographer
Guillermo Rosas
Cinematographer
Michael Berenbaum
Film Editor
Salvador Parra
Production Designer
Batan Silva
Assistant Director
Yvette Gurza
Second Assistant Director
Joaquin Silva
Second Assistant Director
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News & Interviews for Before Night Falls

Critic Reviews for Before Night Falls

All Critics (98) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (72) | Rotten (26)

Audience Reviews for Before Night Falls

  • Feb 10, 2012
    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.
    William D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 29, 2011
    This felt more profound when I saw it when it first came out, but that doesn't mean to say it's not still damn good upon re-viewing.
    Ed K Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2010
    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 Bardem’s interpretation of Reinaldo Arenas is amazing. To hear about the real life counterpart and then compare it to the film, it’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. It’s just an all around great movie.
    Conner R Super Reviewer
  • Aug 11, 2009
    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.
    Elvira B Super Reviewer

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