Che: Part One (The Argentine) Reviews
However, Soderbergh's film seems to revel in this ambiguity. Che was a zealous ideologue, ardent supporter of justice (no matter how perverse his idea of justice became), and a romantic. I feel as though Soderbergh captures this very well and made really the only film you could make about such an enigmatic figure. One devoid of understanding.
Were Soderbergh to take a stance and really dive into what drove Che, he would be making a judgement. Whether he would decide that Che's pursuits were righteous, or a parade a violence driven by delusion, Soderbergh would have to judge his character. And how do you do that when he means so many things to so many different types of people?
I think by abandoning the conventional narrative, and showing vignettes of his life rather than presenting it chronologically, Soderbergh continues to let the audience decide.
Sure, I understand the criticism that by not showing Che commit the violent acts himself in a way absolves him of the crimes & creates in essence, a fairly tale. Yet, I think Che's pursuits were of a very macabre fairy tale.
Will I be watching this film every weekend? No way. Do I think Soderbergh could have tightened up the film overall and cut some of the fat? Absolutely. None the less, I think Soderbergh made the only film that could be made about this infamous revolutionary. It's terrifically filmed, impeccably acted, & I think Soderbergh deserves a lot of credit for bringing this controversial life to the big screen.
It's also mandatory that you view both parts to "Che," for neither film is satisfying on it's own.
Epic film on one of the most important people of the 20th Century. Benicio Del Toro delivers one of his greatest performances as Ernesto ''Che'' Guevara. This tells the story of Che's beginnings in the involvement of the Cuban revolution. The film chronicles the hardships of Che as they invaded Cuba, however the rebels soon effectively destroyed Batista's forces. Throughout the film, we see the rise of Che as his role becomes more important in the revolution. The film shows us the biggest successes in the revolution including the battle that won the revolution, the Sara Clara Battle. The film is not action packed, but the battles are interesting, and entertaining. The story is well told, and by what the veterans of the Cuban Revolution have said about the film, this is a fairly accurate portrait of Cuba's greatest hero.
A well acted and powerful film this a terrific film on a man that nobody truly understood. Che's stature is godlike. Maybe this film will give you the answers you're looking for. A well made film on Che, this is a film that puts to light some of Che's more mysterious qualities. A definite must see.
There's been a lot of debate about whether or not this film is thesis-driven. That is to say that critics and fans have spilled ink over Soderbergh's intent: was this an "objective" (true objectivity is impossible) portrayal, or did he attempt to glorify Che? I for one wish he would've made a decision because the film plays like it is searching for direction. It does display Che as a soldier and a harsh critic of U.S. policies, and one of the film's achievements is its ability to convey Che's charm. We understand why soldiers would be willing to follow a fighter with his passion and resolve. The first episode often depicts Che as a healer, not a fighter. All of this supports the stance that this is a thesis-driven film. However, the "style" (this, according to Sidney Lumet, is the most misused word since "love") is detached, like a bad PBS documentary. Also, aside from a few miners in Bolivia, we don't get to see the reasons for Che's revolution; oppressed, huddled masses would support the idea that the film is thesis-driven, and these are absent. And oddly enough, after spending over four hours with Che, I can't say that I know him that well. Del Toro's performance is unquestionably good - I never doubted his verisimilitude - but the script keeps him emotionally distant. We never see him in a moment of triumph or weakness (except physical weakness caused by Che's asthma) that might endear him to us. I think of Malcolm X and how I mourned for a man who I grew to admire and respect with/for his numerous flaws; I didn't feel the same way at the end of Che.
Also, this film is quite like Syriana in its lack of explanation. I don't know the history all that well, and even with what I do know, I got a little lost here and there.
Overall, I feel smarter having watched it, but this medicine needed a little more sugar to qualify as engaging entertainment.
Soderbergh?s Che: Part One, which focuses on Che?s life and career in and around the Cuban Revolution, has a number of very series of problems which threaten to scupper it throughout. The first of these problems, without question, is the script. On the one hand, the dialogue is tired and formulaic, consisting of the same exchanges between Che and Fidel Castro repeated ad nauseum. These exchanges, which largely consist of Fidel giving an order and Che executing it, are eerily reminiscent of The Godfather. Fidel?s raspy voice and spooky manner reminds you of Marlon Brando?s Don Corleone (only not as good), and you could pretty much replace his orders with the words: ?I want you to do this, it?s for the good of the family?.
These dull exchanges prevent the film from being any kind of sympathetic ideological portrait. On the other hand, the constant reliance in the script on slogans and war cries (in between the Godfather scenes) means that the exchanges between the characters, even in a war zone, never seem objective or believable. This is a film which neither has the courage to be a deliberately rose-tinted portrait, or an objective and realistic documentary, designed to show the ?real? story of the Cuban Revolution.
The second major problem with this film is Soderbergh?s direction. Not only does the poor script undermine his efforts to create dramatic tension, but the film is annoyingly episodic in its structure. It jumps unnecessarily back and forth between the Revolution and Che?s speech at the UN, offering little in the way of events or controversies to connect them. Watching these sections of film is akin to watching a badly put together documentary, inter-cutting stock footage of war with an historian trying to explain what happened. Soderbergh shoots the UN scenes in black-and-white with no visible explanation beyond to distinguish between past and present, and if that is the case, then he is simply being lazy.
The third and final problem is the resulting lack of political engagement. On the one hand, the lack of either inspiring or interesting dialogue makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the audience to connect politically with the Revolution. On the other hand, the jumpy and uncertain direction shortens the amount of solid political messaging which can be made. The film is too busy jumping from place to place to stop and focus on the message of the Revolution and its implications, assuming that the audience have either already read Che?s diaries (on which the film is based) or are unquestioning enough to accept everything.
The only real saving grace of this film is Benicio Del Toro in the title role. From the second he first appears on the screen, you are completely convinced that he is Ernesto ?Che? Guevara (the nickname, incidentally, is never explained). Del Toro walks, talks and thinks into the role, leaving nothing in the way of illusion or pretence, just as Frank Langella did in Frost/Nixon. It's a great performance, once of the most immersive in modern cinema; sadly, the rest of Che: Part One cannot live up to such an adjective. Both the script and Soderbergh's direction are uninspiring and completely unsure of themselves. They are stuck in a no-mans?-land between the alleged objectivity of documentaries and the rose-tinted subjectivity of biopics, and as a result it?s just a dull means of preaching to the converted.
Any political statement that a $60 million capitalist enterprise might make about a Communist revolutionary is irrelevant in nature. But the flickering images on screen,the texture-rich world that the film is submerged in,and the relationships of space and time as mapped out by a capable craftsman and adventurous artist like Soderbergh-these are things actually worth caring about and this is a grand entertainment for a movie that was worth seeing in its entirely.