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Before Night Falls (2000)

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The life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas.

Director:

Julian Schnabel

Writers:

Cunningham O'Keefe, Lázaro Gómez Carriles (as Lazaro Gomez Carriles) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Olatz López Garmendia Olatz López Garmendia ... Reinaldo's Mother (as Olatz Lopez Garmendia)
Giovani Florido Giovani Florido ... Young Reinaldo
Loló Navarro Loló Navarro ... Reinaldo's Grandmother
Batan Silva ... Reinaldo's Father (as Sebastián Silva)
Carmen Beato Carmen Beato ... Teacher
Cy Schnabel Cy Schnabel ... Smallest School Child (as Cy)
Olmo Schnabel Olmo Schnabel ... Smallest School Child
Vito Schnabel Vito Schnabel ... Teenage Reinaldo (as Vito Maria Schnabel)
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. ... Reinaldo's Grandfather (as Pedro Armendáriz)
Diego Luna ... Carlos
Lia Chapman ... Lolin
Sean Penn ... Cuco Sanchez
Jerzy Skolimowski ... Professor
Aquiles Benites Aquiles Benites ... Translator
Ewa Piaskowska Ewa Piaskowska ... Pretty Blonde Student
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

New Line

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | Russian | French

Release Date:

23 February 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Antes que anochezca See more »

Filming Locations:

Mexico See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$85,230, 25 December 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,221,817, 15 April 2001
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Almost every scene, according to Guillermo Rosas, was photographed with a chocolate-colored filter on the camera lens. This contributed a great deal to the distinctive colors and textures in the film, especially the skin tones, and the vibrancy in green hues. See more »

Quotes

Reinaldo Arenas: What do you want?
Cuban Police Officer: What do I want... First of all, I want Carlos to frisk this guy.
Reinaldo Arenas: But he's not even dressed.
Police Officer: What's your name?
Reinaldo Arenas: My name? Franz Kafka.
Police Officer: Hm. You think I am ignorant?
[Reinaldo shakes his head]
Police Officer: Have any of you ever heard of a Camp called La Isla de Joventud?
[Everyone declines]
Police Officer: Then maybe you can tell me, when's the last time you took it up your ass.
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK version is cut by 18 secs to remove a shot of a live bird caught in a noose. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.14 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

El Canonero
Written by E. Benitez
Performed by Benny Moré
Published by Termidor Music Publishing Ltd.
Courtesy of Discos Revuelta SADECV
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Engaging, poetic, touching bio-pic about Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas.
25 April 2004 | by Ben_CheshireSee all my reviews

Incredible central performance from Javier Bardem ties the film together and makes you really care what happens. Great supporting players: Sean Penn has one incredible scene early on, who had us convinced he was Cuban. We didn't at all recognise him. Johnny Depp plays two small parts, but two very memorable ones. Growly-voiced Michael Wincott (played the bad guy in The Crow and Along Came a Spider and The Doors' manager in The Doors) is memorable. Andrea di Stefano is great as a central antagonist of Reinaldo, as is the now-Hollywood-famous Olivier Martinez who plays a touching, platonic friend to Reinaldo.

Beautifully photographed and directed in an admirable manner that draws attention to style every now and then in a poetic way very fitting for a bio-pic about a poet, and at other times just utilises style to tells the story very well, and seem not to be fussing about style at all.

There are scenes here where the sound effects track stops and this gorgeous cello music by Carter Burwell (composer of Being John Malkovich, Meet Joe Black, Man who Wasn't There, with another beautiful score) plays while we watch Bardem sitting in a club while people dance around him, and the music tells us he is far away. It is a wonderful scene, akin to Kurosawa's use of music in the brilliant burning of the first castle scene in Ran.

The way the camera tells this story was so marvellous and slick (though using rough camera work to tell moments of uneasiness, importantly this is not over-used as it was in the recent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) that i knew the filmmaker had been influenced by American filmmaking, but throughout i had no idea the guy actually WAS American! The TV program misleadingly told us it was a Cuban movie (which it is not - it is an American production with Spanish, Cuban and American actors)

I'm even more shocked considering this is the guy who made Basquiat, which i always thought was more a tele-movie, and more about art than about movie-style. Julian Schnabel, i now learn, was a neo-expressionist painter in the 80's! Basquiat, about an artist, perhaps was a movie where he was making the transition between art-language and movie-language. Before Night Falls uses traditional storytelling, to be sure, but it has such a spellbinding cinematic quality i felt sure its director was one with cinema on the brain. Perhaps Schnabel has caught the bug after all.


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