Before Night Falls
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For his sophomore feature film effort, visual artist Julian Schnabel chronicles the life of one of Cuba's most charismatic literary voices, the late Reinaldo Arenas. Working with Arenas' friends and family, Schnabel recounts the author's impoverished rural upbringing and the intense love and support he receives from his mother (played by the director's wife, Olatz Lopez Garmendia). As a young man, Arenas (Javier Bardem) is singled out by his teachers and encouraged to further his skills as a writer -- no easy task, considering the Castro regime's censorship of any work… More
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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"In uniting to honor Arenas, Bardem and Schnabel create something extraordinary."
‑ Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"Though Schnabel's first picture, Basquiat, was notable for its excess and self-indulgence, the filmmaker shows restraint and maturity in this moving depiction of Arenas's life and loves."
‑ Rita Kempley, Washington Post
"One of the first features about Castro's impact on artists and homosexuals, this biopic is well acted by Bardem"
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"despite a real commitment to Arenas and his work, the film just falls short."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"[Bardem] simply does what the script calls for him to do, which is basically sustain a look of pain for two-hours plus."
‑ Michael Dequina, TheMovieReport.com
"Clearly this is Bardem's show. And Bardem walks away with it."
‑ Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel
"Soulful, deeply moving."
‑ Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
""Before Night Falls" exuberantly portrays a writer whose legacy remains an acutely observant childhood spirit that no perversion of politics could break. Javier Bardem blends the swagger of Robert Downey Jr. and the brooding of a young Al Pacino."
‑ Nick Rogers, Suite101.com
"Saddled with a wandering opening and an equally listless conclusion, a more fitting name for this two hour-plus biopic might well be Before Night Falters."
‑ Brent Simon, Entertainment Today
"There is something genuinely moving in Bardem's Rabelaisian poet..."
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"It's a struggle not just to make art but to exist, which is itself an art. And to that goal, the cast members, led by the astonishing Bardem, allow themselves to be devoured by the roles they are playing."
‑ Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post
"This could have been a compelling movie about a wonderful writer, but instead it's a tedious, pointless mess. After spending over 2 hours with Arenas, I still knew nothing about him. Javier Bardem's great performance seemed to be a complete waste."
‑ Austin Kennedy, Film Geek Central
"Schabel's most recent work fails to move me. While the story of Reinaldo Arenas is tragic enough to be interesting (and Javier Bardem's performance sympathetic) the film as a whole simply seems long and indulgent."
‑ Jason Gorber, Film Scouts
"The cinematography is beautiful and clearly shows the director's artistic bent, but the storytelling is often disjointed. . . . Ultimately, Before Night Falls is more successful as a Javier Bardem showcase than a movie."
‑ Forrest Hartman, Reno Gazette-Journal
"Great performances...boring movie."
‑ Paul Salfen, Supercala.com
More reviews for Before Night Falls on Rotten Tomatoes