138 user 56 critic

Before Night Falls (2000)

2:16 | Trailer
The life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas.


Julian Schnabel


Cunningham O'Keefe, Lázaro Gómez Carriles (as Lazaro Gomez Carriles) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Olatz López Garmendia Olatz López Garmendia ... Reinaldo's Mother (as Olatz Lopez Garmendia)
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 ... Smallest School Child
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


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 | cuba | See All (100) »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


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 Schnabel, who was the Global Art Executive of the David Rockefeller-founded Chase Bank Art Collection. See more »


Reinaldo Arenas: [narrating] Leonardo da Vinci was homosexual, so was Michelangelo, Socrates, Shakespeare, and almost every other figure that has formed what we have come to understand as beauty.
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 »


Featured in The 73rd Annual Academy Awards (2001) See more »


Tu Veras
Written by Miguel Matamoros
Performed by Trio Matamoros
Published by Peer International Corp.
Courtesy of Discos Revuelta SADECV
See more »

User Reviews

A truly Fantastic performance by Javier Bardem
1 September 2016 | by paulijcalderonSee all my reviews

A film with strong and powerful moments. The movie uses some documentary footage and exposition about the revolution in Cuba and the problems that people went through, but the real story is about a writer and his struggle to find peace and recognition.

It took some time for me to get invested. It bothered me a bit because the movie is narrated by the writer and you see his life since he was young. So, you would expect you to be invested right away. But, for me it took some time in first act getting in to the story because here and there stock footage would pop up and it would take me out of it. Once the main character ends up being accused for something he didn't do, the film picks up and his journey becomes riveting.

I like the vintage look of this film, the colors makes it feel like the film was made in the 60's and 70's. Johnny Depp is funny playing two roles, but the actor stealing the show is Javier Bardem who is fantastic in this performance. The movie does a good job in making you understand his motives and ambitions. Even though I didn't care much about his relations, you still understand the fact that it's just how he is personally and he doesn't try to force you to like him. He just appears like himself and doesn't try to be someone he isn't. Which makes the audience respect him.

The scenes in a prison were really hard hitting, especially when he is forced to be in a tiny, tiny cell. That most be horrifying, and Bardem completely made you believe what kind of a traumatic affect it would have on someone. Brilliantly made.

In short, a fantastic performance all the way through (especially towards the finale), but the film is a bit unbalanced and some of the most interesting parts of the story pass by too soon. It stays a little too long on the writer's romantic life in the beginning, and unfortunately that aspect wasn't as compelling as I think the filmmakers were hoping it would be. Everything about the writers escape and the prison scenes are however great and I would still recommend checking it out.

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Official Sites:

New Line


USA | Mexico


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 »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$85,230, 25 December 2000

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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