| Original Score: 3/4
In uniting to honor Arenas, Bardem and Schnabel create something extraordinary.
| Original Score: 5/5
Clearly this is Bardem's show. And Bardem walks away with it.
It's a struggle not just to make art but to exist, which is itself an art. And to that goal, the cast members, led by the astonishing Bardem, allow themselves to be devoured by the roles they are playing.
Though Schnabel's first picture, Basquiat, was notable for its excess and self-indulgence, the filmmaker shows restraint and maturity in this moving depiction of Arenas's life and loves.
Soulful, deeply moving.
Consistently intriguing and surprisingly entertaining.
The best American movie since American Beauty.
A visually arresting, well-acted biopic that would be better in Spanish.
| Original Score: B+
The main reason to see Before Night Falls is Bardem, one of the few modern actors with real animal appeal and the guts to show it.
Bardem hasn't the charisma to bring variety to Arenas or his plight.
Schnabel has fashioned a dense, emotionally satisfying portrait of a man, a time and a place.
A prosaically inspirational and passionate work, a celebration of the artistic impulse as a surging force of nature.
Always watchable and often engrossing.
Arenas is not presented as a cliche, as the heroic gay artist crushed by totalitarian straightness, but as a man who might have been approximately as unhappy no matter where he was born.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
It's the emotional and spiritual arc of an exile, in all its terrible isolation, that gives Before Night Falls its power.
Gives you a sense of Arenas' life, and the time and place in which he lived, that's as vivid as you're likely to experience in a movie biography.
Before Night Falls is such a vivid experience that it holds you fully in each moment.
Before Night Falls lays bare not just the cruelty of Cuba's totalitarianism but its spiritual essence.
| Original Score: A
Enjoy Before Night Falls as a great movie, and as a celebration of one man's spiritual and artistic fortitude.
A spellbinding treatment of the life of the late Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas that also confirms painter Julian Schnabel as a director of the first rank.
Spain's Javier Bardem gives an undeniably dynamic lead performance that lifts this labor of love over its incessant downer premise.
Anyone expecting a hard-hitting biography will be disappointed by Julian Schnabel's soft-edged, dreamy and relatively nonpolitical film.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Redolent of atmosphere and rapturously cinematic, Before Night Falls has a gift for creating visual mood that's so strong you'd swear it couldn't last -- but you'd be wrong.
| Original Score: 4/5
The film's ephemeral, semi-evasive lyricism ultimately works as a modest frame for Bardem's tender, deft portrait, which is in turn suitably expansive and rooted in the most concrete details.
Such a sensory experience; in its best moments, the film washes over you like a fever dream.
One of the best films I've seen all year.
An intriguing and sporadically powerful motion picture with a stellar central performance.
If Before Night Falls doesn't give us Arenas's life as he actually experienced it, it offers penetrating glimpses into his life as he may have dreamed it.