Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro's rebels. By 1964, ...
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An Innuit hunter races his sled home with a fresh-caught halibut. This fish pervades the entire film, in real and imaginary form. Meanwhile, Axel tags fish in New York as a naturalist's ... See full summary »
Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro's rebels. By 1964, he is in Havana. He meets the wealthy Pepe, an early lover; a love-hate relationship lasts for years. Openly gay behavior is a way to spite the government. His writing and homosexuality get him into trouble: he spends two years in prison, writing letters for other inmates and smuggling out a novel. He befriends Lázaro Gomes Garriles, with whom he lives stateless and in poverty in Manhattan after leaving Cuba in the Mariel boat-lift. When asked why he writes, he replies cheerfully, "Revenge." Written by
Olivier Martinez first English speaking role. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino were offered the role of great Cuban man of letters Lezama Lima. The part was finally played by a friend of Julian Schnabell who was Global Art Executive of David Rockefeller Founded Chase Bank Art Collection. See more »
Bardem Is Great, But Film Itself Left Me in the Cold
It wasn't until "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" that I warmed to the work of Julian Schnabel. Before that there was "Basquiat," which I actively disliked, and then there was "Before Night Falls," which I didn't dislike exactly, but which I also didn't exactly enjoy.
No complaints about the performance of Javier Bardem, before anyone knew who he was, as Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. But the film plays out as so many other biopics do, and it's pretty bleakly depressing by the time it's over. The final scenes, as we watch Arenas slowly disintegrate due to AIDS, are especially tough.
You might need to be a fan either of Schnabel the director or Arenas the poet to fully appreciate this movie. It wouldn't surprise me if everyone else felt somewhat left out in the cold by it.
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