Before Night Falls is a biographical drama examining the life of Cuban Poet and writer Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardim) from his birth until the time of his death. Born in Oriente in 1943, and raised by a single mother and her parents, Arenas moves to Havana in the sixties. Whilst completing his studies, Arenas explores his sexuality and his writing ambitions. His openly gay lifestyle and his writing, now world-renowned – In 1966 he published El Mundo Alucinante (Hallucinations) which received critical acclaim and won honorable mention from the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists – both get him into trouble and in 1973 he is arrested and spends two years in prison, accused of ideological deviation.
Initially a supporter of Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution, Arenas has a love-hate relationship for many years with Pepe Malas (Andrea di Stefano).
In 1980 Arenas leaves Cuba to start a new life in the US and lives with his lover Lazaro Gomez Carriles (Olivier Martinez). Living in New York, he published three books: “Cantando en el Pozo” in 1982; “El Palacio de la Blanquisimas Mofetas” in 1982 and “El Portero in 1987”. Arenas later is diagnosed with AIDS and dies at the age of 47, in 1990, with the help of his lover.
“It’s an horrific and tragic story, but somehow made beautiful through the care and attention of Schnabel’s direction and Bardem’s tender, unforgettable performance.”
— Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle
“In uniting to honor Arenas, Bardem and Schnabel create something extraordinary.”
— Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“The film’s ephemeral, semi-evasive lyricism ultimately works as a modest frame for Bardem’s tender, deft portrait, which is in turn suitably expansive and rooted in the most concrete details — Arenas’s pride and anger, his unsentimental wit and defiant vitality.”
— Dennis Lim, Village Voice
Did You Know?
To prepare for the part Javier Bardim spent several weeks with Lazaro Gomes Carriles in order to study how Arenas walked and talked, resulting in his Cuban accent being ‘perfect’. Arenas’ memoir Antes Que Anochezca (Before Night Falls) was published three years after his death and is a main source of detail for the film. Review our Gay Themed Films Here