Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro's rebels. By 1964, he is in Havana. He meets the wealthy Pepe, an early lover; a love-hate relationship lasts for years. Openly gay behavior is a way to spite the government. His writing and homosexuality get him into trouble: he spends two years in prison, writing letters for other inmates and smuggling out a novel. He befriends Lázaro Gomes Garriles, with whom he lives stateless and in poverty in Manhattan after leaving Cuba in the Mariel boat-lift. When asked why he writes, he replies cheerfully, "Revenge." Written by
Set in Cuba, the film was made entirely in Mexico, with Veracruz doubling as Havana. Julian Schnabel said the crew was so pleasant to work with, that if he was making a film in the arctic, he would use a Mexican crew. See more »
Gorgeous adaptation of Reinaldo Arenas' best-selling autobiography of the same name. Javier Bardem gives a towering performance as Arenas, the famous Cuban poet who found himself constantly in a state of being unwanted by the world around him, and yet still full of the ability to see the beauty in it. Using stock footage of Castro's military-ruled Cuba, a haunting score by Carter Burwell (with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson), and many cameos by famous actors (Sean Penn being the only one that really misfires, Michael Wincott being an exceptionally good one), director Julian Schanbel has created one of the most touching, affecting and polished film works of the whole year. Johnny Depp stands out in a small role dressed completely in drag (and he's gorgeous!)
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