Before Night Falls (2000)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  23 February 2001 (USA)
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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 »



, (as Lazaro Gomez Carriles) , 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Olatz López Garmendia ...
Reinaldo's Mother (as Olatz Lopez Garmendia)
Young Reinaldo (as Giovani Florido)
Loló Navarro ...
Reinaldo's Grandmother
Batan Silva ...
Reinaldo's Father (as Sebastián Silva)
Carmen Beato ...
Cy Schnabel ...
Smallest School Child (as Cy)
Olmo Schnabel ...
Smallest School Child
Vito Maria Schnabel ...
Reinaldo's Grandfather (as Pedro Armendáriz)
Aquiles Benites ...
Ewa Piaskowska ...
Pretty Blonde Student


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

cuban | poet | novelist | gay | cuba | See All (104) »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content, some language and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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Release Date:

23 February 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Antes que anochezca  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$85,230 (USA) (29 December 2000)


£317,371 (UK) (6 July 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


Reinaldo's Mother: Reinaldo, would you be sad if I died?
See more »


References Shane (1953) See more »


Mujer Perjura
Written by Antonio Escobar
Published by Peer International Corp.
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User Reviews

In my top ten of all time.
21 August 2001 | by (Toronto) – See all my reviews

BEFORE NIGHT FALLS, directed by Julian Schnabel is the best movie made since SCHINDLER'S LIST, and just might surpass it.

There is hardly anything I would change about this movie, it is in my mind as perfect as they could have made it. The only thing that could have been better was going deeper into Bardem's character, but I don't think that they really needed to, because like in OUT OF AFRICA, the character is not gone into very deeply, but the performance of Meryl Streep, or in this case Javier Bardem makes you feel like you know Arenas. The tiniest nuance is played out beautifully by Bardem, who had to learn Cuban Spanish and English with a cuban accent as well as gain a lot of weight, and probably hours of thought put into his performance.

The writing is amazing, going from one event to the other, more about the author and what happens around him than an actual basic plotline. The music is terrific and well chosen, and Burwell's original score is the best original music in film history. The cinematography is innovative and excellent, audiences have seen few examples of the photography used in this film.

And to top it all off, Julian Schanbel does a perfect job of directing, showing Arenas's life with a beautiful new narrative technique, while at the same time showing the contrast of the Revolution and it's events and the beautiful Cuban country. As in the memoir by Arenas, the film is seen through Arenas's eyes, and it is like the whole world is gay, in a sense, and it's fabulous. I also love how when showing the documentary footage, and Bardem read excerpts of Arenas's writing, it was spoken in Spanish, being true to the author's work, while the beautiful Burwell music played.

Granted, this film is not for everyone, in fact I expect ninety percent of people to detest it, but to me, it is an amazing movie that is one of the few to get a ten out of ten from myself.

Absolutely fabulous, but if you like a basic, clear plotline with rising events, climactic end, action, and humour that comes out as jokes and not just funny situations and such, you won't like it. In fact, as I said, I expect most people reading this not to like it, but to me, it may be in my top five, should've won best picture.

35 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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