Before Night Falls

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -3 1/2

BEFORE NIGHT FALLS journeys into the writings and life of Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem). Growing up under the umbrella of Castros revolutionary movement, the young Arenas joins the revolution for a time, but eventually moves in a different direction. After the revolution, he could write more often and work in Havanas national library. However, as Arenas gains prominence as a young writer, the government begins to crack down on artists and homosexuals. The government censors his works, which leaves him no choice but to smuggle them out of Cuba for publishing in Europe. Due to his smuggling and homosexual lifestyle, Arenas is constantly harassed by government forces and often in prison. Accepting exile when Castro allows homosexuals and mental patients to leave Cuba, Reinaldo settles into life in New York after 37 long years of oppression. Bardems performance in the film is nothing short of magnificent. Poetic dialogue combined with the tragic life of Arenas set an intriguing backdrop. A celebration of the artistic spirit, BEFORE NIGHT FALLS should thrive on the art house circuit.

The film does an excellent job of contrasting pre-Castro Cuba with the effects of the revolution. After Castro is raised to power, Cuba becomes a different place and simple freedoms are hard to come by. The level of oppression and harassment that people like Bardem suffer is, at times, difficult to watch. One reason for Bardems persecution is his homosexuality, and the film leaves no doubt about Arenas sexual preference. Nearly every scene features some kind of homosexual image, ranging from effeminate behavior to frank statements about homosexual sex to one brief, graphic homosexual sex act without nudity. Johnny Depp takes on a dual role as both a government officer and a transvestite homosexual. One scene portrays a female prostitute performing an unconventional act on young teen Arenas. In addition, full male frontal nudity occurs a few times in the film. Although it avoids graphic violence and limits foul language, explicit male nudity and graphic portrayal of homosexual acts warrants a strong negative rating.

Preview Reviewer: John Adair
Fine Line Features, 888 7th Ave., 20th Floor, New York, NY 10106

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (7) times - Moderate

Obscene Language: Few (3) times - Other

Profanity: None

Violence: Several times Mild and moderate (man pushes woman, man punched/ beaten with rifle/ pushed/ hit with melon, woman jumps from balcony implied suicide, men wrestle on ground, gun threats)

Sex: Twice Implied and graphic (implied between unmarried couple in room, graphic unconventional act between teen boy and female prostitute)

Nudity: Several times (child full male nudity, nude men bathing in river, nude men dancing around bonfire, prolonged male frontal); Near Nudity Few times (cleavage emphasized, skimpy bikinis, men in tight bathing suits)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (man grabs womans rear, people kissing sensuously at party with men and women lying on one another, discussion about mens genitals, talk about self-gratification)

Drugs: Many times (cigarette smoking, alcohol)

Other: Homosexuality treated positively; dictator horribly oppresses Cuban liberty; inhumane prisons depicted; man performs brief pagan ritual to ward off evil spirits

Running Time: 130 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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