“The difference between the Communist system and the capitalist system is that when they give you a kick in the ass, in the Communist system you have to applaud, in the capitalist system, you can scream.” – Reinaldo Arenas
Number of Times Seen – 1 (2 Apr 2019)
Brief Synopsis – The life of Cuban writer and poet Reinaldo Arenas is explored through the various troubles in life including his imprisonment by Cuban officials after publishing some of his work overseas.
My Take on it – As a movie lover who doesn’t usually enjoy foreign language films that much, I avoided watching this film for nearly two decades due to the fact that it is almost entirely in Spanish.
The premise is an interesting one to explore since it allows us to see the kind of life that a homosexual poet in Communist Cuba was able to live despite the fact that the Communist Regime oppressed and abused him for the way he lived.
The story is told in a very choppy fashion and it jumps around a bit too much in time which makes it a more incoherent along the way.
Javier Bardem was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance here and he was quite deserving of it due to his excellent work in this film.
They do a nice job showing the oppressive nature of the Regime in Cuba at the time and how their intolerance with his writing went against their ideas of not allowing free speech or free expression.
He did his best to spread the word around the globe about his thoughts and he suffered much for it.
He wanted his art to be read by everyone in the Free World in order to get a better understanding of the freedoms that he professed.
The biggest problem here is the way that they present the story since it doesn’t manage to move along smoothly.
Unfortunately, Arenas’ life was filled with so many important events that it’s hard to cram them all into just two hours and parts of the story feel a bit incomplete.
He lived his life with passion and always wanted to express himself to anyone who wanted to listen.
They have some great cameos with Sean Penn and Johnny Depp who are both almost completely unrecognizable behind all of their makeup.
Bottom Line – Interesting idea for a biopic yet something feels missing since the story feels much too choppy. Bardem is great in the lead and deservingly was nominated for an Oscar for his work here. The oppressive regime in Cuba is shown to not tolerate the writings of Arenas since they didn’t allow free speech or free expression of ideas which was fundamental for him in letting the world see and understand his art. The story doesn’t run smoothly and it feels as if two hours is nowhere near enough time to explore such a rich life filled with so much passion while also having the urge to express himself throughout. Nice cameos by Penn and Depp who are both almost completely unrecognizable here.
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Almost every scene, according to Guillermo Rosas, was photographed with a chocolate-colored filter on the camera lens. The contributed a great deal to distinctive colors and textures in the film, especially the skin tones, and the vibrancy in green hues. (From IMDB)
Rating – BAFTA Worthy (6/10)
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