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"BEFORE NIGHT FALLS"
(2000) (Javier Bardem, Olivier Martinez) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Mild Extreme Moderate Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor None None Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Mild Mild Moderate Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: After participating in the socialist revolution in Cuba, a gay writer and poet finds his life turned upside down when Castro's regime cracks down on both artists and homosexuals.
PLOT:
Born in poverty but surrounded by natural beauty in 1943 Cuba, a young boy, Reinaldo Arenas, finds himself without a father, but with a natural talent for writing. Years later, and now a teenager, Arenas (JAVIER BARDEM) has moved to the town of Holguin where he soon joins other revolutionaries in overthrowing dictator Fulgencio Batista.

While he then enjoys the spoils of the new government's educational programs in the early 1960s, Reinaldo also begins exploring his homosexuality through a range of lovers including Pepe Malas (ANDREA DI STEFANO). Yet, after securing a prestigious job at the National Library and writing his first novel, Reinaldo soon finds the same government he helped push into power suddenly beginning a crackdown on both artists and homosexuals.

Despite being persecuted, eventually imprisoned and interrogated by the likes of Lieutenant Victor (JOHNNY DEPP), however, the young man keeps writing, much to the chagrin of the government. As the years pass and Reinaldo finds a kindred spirit in the form of Lázaro Gómez Carriles (OLIVIER MARTINEZ), he faces various challenges such as that offered by trying to escape the island country, further persecution and harassment, and the specter of AIDS.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of Arenas' work and/or someone in the cast, or are interested in Cuban matters, it's not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong sexual content, some language and brief violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JAVIER BARDEM plays a Cuban poet and writer who's exiled, persecuted and imprisoned because he's gay and an artist. As such and after enjoying the free lifestyle of being both, he endures years of hardship under the Castro regime.
  • OLIVIER MARTINEZ plays Reinaldo's late in the story lover and/or companion.
  • JOHNNY DEPP plays both a mean Cuban military/police officer who interrogates and threatens Reinaldo, as well as a flamboyant male transvestite/transsexual who visits the men in prison, smuggling things to them in his rectum.
  • ANDREA DI STEFANO plays an on again, off again acquaintance/lover of Reinaldo's who possibly appears to be bisexual.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Various instances of male full frontal nudity are present, as is a partially seen heterosexual encounter, another with a woman having oral sex with a man, a presumably imagined but graphic shot of homosexual sex (a man behind another man with movement) and some implied encounters. Some sexually related dialogue is also present, while a smattering of profanity is also uttered.

    Violence consists of a mercy killing via a person smothering another, a suicide, people hitting and beating others and one person threatening another with a gun. Some of those scenes and others may be tense or unsettling to some viewers. A few sights of blood are present, as is talk of a character smuggling items to prisoners in his rectum.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including the Cuban government that persecutes and imprisons artists and homosexuals (the protagonist is both). Various characters drink (some to the point of later being passed out) while another takes some form of drug given to him by another person. A few characters also smoke. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home who wants to see it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in it.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Miscellaneous people have drinks in a club.
  • Various people drink at a performance.
  • People drink in another scene.
  • Someone gives Reinaldo some pills that are supposed to make him happy (he doesn't take any at that moment, but does so later when imprisoned and acts drugged).
  • Various people drink and then later we see a party with these same people who drink even more and then later appear to be passed out drunk.
  • A person shows up with a bottle of booze for Reinaldo.
  • Reinaldo has some liquor.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see what looks like blood around a woman's head after she's just jumped to her death, but it's seen from a distance and thus it can't be discerned whether it's blood or just a stain/marking on the street.
  • We hear a man urinating.
  • We hear that a certain character dressed in drag would smuggle things into prison inside his rectum for other prisoners (in one scene, he goes into a bathroom stall and then hands things that he retrieved from that part of his body to someone in an adjacent stall - but we don't see anything graphic).
  • Reinaldo has a bit of blood on his hand after a drinking glass he's washing breaks and cuts him.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers may not like Reinaldo's sexual orientation and such related material.
  • Others will see the new Cuban government as having both types of attitudes for persecuting and imprisoning homosexuals and artists.
  • Pepe purposefully smashes some kids' kite after it accidentally lands on him.
  • Some kids steal Reinaldo's clothes off the beach and then later accuse him of molesting them (and the police believe them rather than Reinaldo and thus he's taken off to jail).
  • A cop/military official is mean to Reinaldo while interrogating him (including acting as if he's going to shoot him).
  • Pepe steals a hot air balloon for himself in an attempt to escape (that others were going to use for the same purpose).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense or unsettling to some viewers.
  • Some military types approach Reinaldo and his friends and it appears to be a tense scene, but nothing ultimately happens in that regard.
  • Dressed just in his bathing suit, Reinaldo quietly slips out of a common jail cell and then tries to find his way out of the building without being detected.
  • Prison guards place Reinaldo inside an extremely small solitary confinement cell (which may make viewers uncomfortable due to its small size in relation to him).
  • A military official interrogates Reinaldo and then holds his pistol to Reinaldo's face/head, threatening to shoot him (and even puts it in his mouth and then pulls the trigger, but the gun is empty).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Bombs/Explosives: We see the resultant explosions from a distance in a brief scene.
  • Rifles/Automatic weapons: Carried by rebels/soldiers and fired into the air in one scene.
  • Handgun: Used by a cop/military officer to threaten Reinaldo.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Balls" (testicles), "Whores," "Shut up" and "Bitch."
  • A man has a large tattoo on his chest.
  • We hear that a certain character dressed in drag would smuggle things into prison inside his rectum for other prisoners (in one scene, he goes into a bathroom stall and then hands things that he retrieved from that part of his body to someone in an adjacent stall - but we don't see anything graphic).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The sudden sound of a lighting strike, as well as that of a drinking glass breaking in someone's hand might startle some viewers.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 2 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck"), 4 asses and 1 S.O.B. (in English subtitles) are used during the film.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Reinaldo's mother shows a bit of cleavage.
  • We see full frontal nudity of Reinaldo as a young boy as he plays in a hole.
  • In a Cuban sex education class, a teacher asks her students if anyone can name the male reproductive organ. A boy answers, "A d*ck. A long skinny d*ck."
  • We see both rear and full frontal nudity of many men as they bathe in a body of water (from somewhat of a distance) and a young Reinaldo gazes out at them.
  • After someone asks if Reinaldo thinks he can "do it" with a prostitute (who shows cleavage), we see her and Reinaldo heading up some stairs and then in a room where she performs oral sex on him (we don't see the actual act but there's no doubt what she's doing as we see her head at his crotch as he lies on a bed but seems rather indifferent to what she's doing).
  • We see part of some men's bare butts as they shower.
  • Reinaldo and another man briefly kiss (but the scene ends before we see anything else happen).
  • We see Pepe out on a dance floor with a woman he kisses (he also gropes her clothed butt).
  • A soldier asks Reinaldo, "When's the last time you took it up your ass?" Later, Reinaldo kisses this man and we then see various men running around a campfire nude (full frontal and rear nudity).
  • The camera briefly focuses on the bulge in Reinaldo's pants.
  • While swimming underwater, Reinaldo briefly stops to look at a man's full frontal nudity (we also see men and women in various styles of bathing suits, such as a woman in a bikini who shows cleavage).
  • At that beach, we see Pepe come out of a room with a woman in a bathing suit (implied fooling around as the two of them smile about whatever they were doing in there).
  • Some comments are made about a man and that there's no limit to his sexual voracity. Comments are then made about different types of gay people (as far as how open they are with being gay).
  • We see an imaginary shot of Reinaldo having sex from behind a man as both stand in a public shower (we see them from the torsos up and from a high angle with movement) and Reinaldo talks directly to the camera while doing so.
  • Reinaldo tells us (via voice over narration) that repression only acted as a stimulus and (homosexual) sex gave them a way to fight it.
  • We see part of a man's bare butt as he's dressed in drag at a gay party in prison.
  • In what's presumably a fantasy of some sort, we see a military or prison official rubbing his clothed crotch in front of Reinaldo. In voice over, Reinaldo then states that he nearly feinted when he felt that man's "member" near his face.
  • In the background of a party, a couple may be having sex (we see a woman on top of a man but can't really tell what they're doing).
  • Trying to get an exit pass from the country and needing to prove that he's either a thief or homosexual to do so, Reinaldo tells authorities that he falls into the latter category. As such, a man asks him what position he likes to have sex in and Reinaldo replies that it's from behind while on his knees.
  • SMOKING
  • Reinaldo, a few other prominent characters and various miscellaneous/background characters smoke cigarettes or cigars in several scenes (none individually more than a few times).
  • Reinaldo and his friends throw cigarettes to soldiers as they drive past them.
  • In voice over narration, Reinaldo states that he accumulated a large number of cigarettes in prison for serving as the other prisoner's "ghost letter writer."
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Reinaldo's mother and father didn't get along and we see a scene of her throwing rocks in his direction as they stand on opposite sides of a stream.
  • A man (possibly the grandfather) slaps a young Reinaldo on the back of the head and then goes out and cuts down a tree Reinaldo had carved poetic sayings into (after that man hears from Reinaldo's teacher that the boy has a gift for poetry).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy of the film and the real-life incidents it portrays.
  • The political upheaval that occurred in Cuba.
  • Homosexuality.
  • A person smothers a sick person in a mercy killing.
  • AIDS.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A man (possibly the grandfather) slaps a young Reinaldo on the back of the head and then goes out and cuts down a tree Reinaldo had carved poetic sayings into (after that man hears from Reinaldo's teacher that the boy has a gift for poetry).
  • Reinaldo accidentally throws a rock through a window as he tries to get a friend's attention.
  • A man grabs Reinaldo and then pushes him down to the ground.
  • A man punches Reinaldo after Reinaldo grabs that man's hand when he thinks he's gay and interested in him.
  • A soldier kicks another man for laughing.
  • Guards push people backwards, including one who hits a man several times with his rifle.
  • Although we don't see the actual act or impact, a woman jumps out a window to her death (we see her shoes on the windowsill and then see her body - from a distance - on the street below).
  • Pepe purposefully smashes some kids' kite after it accidentally lands on him. He and Reinaldo then get into a scuffle on the beach.
  • After washing up on a shore while trying to escape Cuba, Reinaldo breaks the glass in a window to gain entrance into an abandoned beach house. It then looks as if he's purposefully cutting himself with some broken glass, but we can't ever tell that for sure.
  • A guard grabs Reinaldo by the hair to pull him from a small solitary confinement cell.
  • A military official interrogates Reinaldo and then holds his pistol to Reinaldo's face/head, threatening to shoot him (and even puts it in his mouth and then pulls the trigger, but the gun is empty).
  • Reinaldo hits Pepe over the head with a watermelon, knocking him to the floor where another man punches Pepe in the face.
  • Pepe kicks a man backwards while stealing a hot air balloon. That balloon later crashes, but we don't know if he's injured or killed.
  • We see some archival footage of a person being hit by others with sticks.
  • Reinaldo accidentally cuts his hand when a drinking glass he's washing breaks.
  • A person smothers a sick person in a mercy killing.



  • Reviewed November 20, 2000 / Posted February 2, 2001

    Other new reviews available this week include:

    [Before I Go To Sleep] [Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)] [John Wick] [Nightcrawler] [Ouija] [23 Blast]

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