Before Night Falls (2000)

“Summer of Film #25 of 100”:
Before Night Falls reminds me of the “old Einstein line”:

“If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.”

The gay community all over the world have been subjected to the same brand of hypocrisy in modern times. In Before Night Falls, the Cuban poet “Reynaldo Arenas”: (played by Javier Bardem) goes from a wide-eyed, young artist to a decaying middle-aged man before our eyes. We sense that but for a different sexual predilection he would have been a national hero. In a time when “homosexuals in the United States were being branded communists”:, Before Night Falls shows us a man in a different society being branded a capitalist sympathizer for the same reason.

While initially a supporter of the communist revolution in Cuba, Arenas is later persecuted in his own country until “homosexuals and other unwanted people” are banished from the country in 1980. It is at this point, when he arrives in New York, that the film (which was already laboring under its own weight) actually stalls. The final thirteen years of his life are run through in 10 minutes and we get no real sense of his life in the United States. Bardem plays the part in spectacular fashion- especially as the younger optimistic Arenas.


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