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, ... See full summary »
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Kristin Scott Thomas,
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
The director's wife plays Javier Bardem's mother. All of Schnabel's children have bit roles as well. See more »
What do you want?
Cuban Police Officer:
What do I want... First of all, I want Carlos to frisk this guy.
But he's not even dressed.
What's your name?
My name? Franz Kafka.
Hm. You think I am ignorant?
[Reinaldo shakes his head]
Have any of you ever heard of a Camp called La Isla de Joventud?
Then maybe you can tell me, when's the last time you took it up your ass.
[...] 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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