This movie is based on the story of a Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas, played by Javier Bardem. Arenas was raised in the Oriente Province of Cuba in the 1940s and he happened to be a homosexual. He and his family were very poor.
He began his life-long love of the sea and water and left home as a young adolescent. He moved to Havana where he found himself swept up in the revolutionary spirit and to express all his feelings and the mixed up emotions that had been bottling up inside of him he joined a circle of writers and artists.
His first novel, "Singing from the Well," was published in Cuba. Soon after his first novel he started writing on political issues and poured down his exact opinion of Fidel Castro, the ruler. As Castro's oppressive regime gathered force, Arenas' homosexuality and political writing made him a target and he was falsely accused of molestation. This led to his arrest and imprisoned at El Morro prison. But despite the hardships of the prison Arenas kept on writing, and not only did he write his mind he also had his work published abroad.
Eventually he was released from the prison and allowed to leave Cuba for America, although after dehumanizing treatment. In the light of how horrible his life had been Castro's country, Arenas fled Cuba in the 1980 Mariel Harbor boatlift to America.
He moved to New York with his friend Lazaro Gomez Carilles. Here Arenas hoped for a new life and struggled very hard. He tried to start all over but his dreams of a new life were shattered as he found out that he had been infected with AIDS.
He became even more depressed of his life than he had ever been before and committed suicide in New York in 1993 at the age of 45.
This movie contains a lot of surprises, or much rather treats for the watcher. Top of the list would be the appearance of Johnny Depp in two different roles, one as the strict lieutenant and the other as the cross-dressing inmate named Bon Bon.
Another surprised is the presence of a well hidden Sean Penn who plays a rather short role of Cuco Sanchez in the movie.
The review of this Movie prepared by zainab iqtidar
The tragic life story of Latin poet and writer Reinaldo Arenas, born in Cuba to an impoverished single mother (Lopez) in 1943, follows his bitter struggle for acceptance and recognition. At an early age Arenas learns he has a gift for poetry and that he likes boys. Still just a teen he leaves his home to join the Communist rebels. While attending university studies in Havana, Arenas (Bardem) earned a position at the National Library where he works on becoming a published writer. Seduced by bisexual Carlos (Luna) they become friends until Arenas' later betrayal at the hand of his long time acquaintance. He and his friends are exhilarated by their newly found sexual freedom, but it can be dangerous to be too open with their lifestyle. As the Cuban government begins cracking down on those Castro calls misfits many are sent to prison camps. One of Arenas' stories submitted for judging wins him a mentor who believes in keeping Cuba arts and culture alive during Castro's reign.
Arenas must smuggle one of his works out of the country to Paris to get it published. In 1974 he is arrested as a child molester on trumped up charges but flees from his incompetent jailers. He resorts to living in a public park in Havana before he is recaptured and sent to the infamous El Morro Castle is used as a prison. He endears himself to the killers and psychotics there by writing their letters to loved ones for much of the prison population. Arenas meets Bon Bon (Depp) a transvestite with a talent for hiding contraband objects in his body cavities. Freed from jail he befriends Lazaro (Martinez) and plans to escape Cuba in a balloon. In 1980 Arenas manages to gain a place on the Mariel boatlift to Florida and works his way to New York City. His freedom turns out to be his downfall as he contracts AIDS and struggles with the debilitating nature of the disease until 1990.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Fletcher