Che: Part One (The Argentine) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 30, 2012
I see this film has split many down the middle, is it love/hate or is it just down to either being American or not? I thought that it was a fantastic film that totally exceeded my ambivalent expectations. I loved the Motorcycle diaries and wondered if this film would act as a good successor and I believe it does. Soderbergh is a love/hate director for me but lately it's been mainly love, this being my favourite of his films so far. I'm fed up of peoples BS about this film and many like it as being 'Unbalanced' and 'rose-tinted'. Biopics and historical events can only be reenacted to a point but anyone who has actually done any research into Che will know that not much has been left out that didn't warrant it. I studied Che, Cuban history and the fear of Communism at college and would often challenge people sporting Che t-shirts as to whether they actually know anything about him. I think Soderbergh's direction suits the story perfectly and I thought Benicio Del Toro was brilliant in the title role. Pretty much faultless in my opinion, the criticisms here on flixster really surprise me (by the way flixster, you got the cast wrong Javier Bardem did not play Fidel Castro)
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2011
A sprawling, epic look at the life of Che Guevara through the lense of Steven Soderbergh. Del Toro is brilliant in the lead.
axadntpron
Super Reviewer
½ September 22, 2011
I should have hated this film. I feel like the legend of Che has become so distorted & romanticized, that whatever your cause, you can invoke the name of Che to further it. On top of this, every college student with access to a Hot Topic has donned a shirt with the figure's face on it, without the benefit of knowing the context of the original movement. The last thing I needed was further ambiguity.
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.
stevenecarrier
Super Reviewer
September 17, 2011
The more details you know about Che Guevara going into Part One of Steven Soderbergh's "Che," the easier you'll embrace it. Soderbergh has a very unusual, emotionally distant, non-linear approach to this film, and while it's admirable, it's hard for a non-history buff like myself to totally grasp the story. Granted, this film isn't exactly about Che's life (which is misleading, but certainly thought provoking) and more about specific pieces (or more accurately, conversations) of a man's life that Soderbergh found intriguing. Of course, the film is beautifully shot and expertly acted, but just be warned, do your homework before hand- it will help.

It's also mandatory that you view both parts to "Che," for neither film is satisfying on it's own.
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2009
Part One follows Ernesto Guevara as he fights alongside Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution. A phenomenal signature performance from Benicio Del Toro in the title role.
TheDudeLebowski65
Super Reviewer
July 17, 2010
Ernesto "Che" Guevara is one of the recognizable figures of the 20th Century. He has led a life of adventure and has been a major figure of the Cuban Revolution. During his early years, Ernesto Guevara who was a doctor travelling Latin America was disgusted by the significant rate of poverty that he saw. He started to have a radical political ideology, and when he met Fidel Castro, he found his calling. Director Steven Soderbergh brings to the screen the incredible true story of Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
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.
hunterjt13
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2010
Note: this review applies to both parts of Che; I don't think these can be interpreted as separate films even though Flixster has different entries for each part.
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.
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2008
Well-made but emotionally empty and pretty boring storytelling.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2008
A spralling and masterful epic. Easily one of Soderbergh's best films.
cosmo313
Super Reviewer
September 19, 2007
Very artistic, stylish, and well acted look at Che's role in the Cuban Revolution as well as his visit to the UN. The movie is biased towards him, but he's not depicted as 100% perfect. The film drags a bit at times, but that's the only real complaint I have. I look forward to part 2.
Super Reviewer
½ December 31, 2009
Soderberg's political biography about Che Guevara and his engage in the Cuban Revolution is well done, but fails for picturing him as an almost flawless hero and for avoiding any of the true controversies on his character.
gor41
Super Reviewer
January 31, 2010
Authentic account of Che's early years with Del Toro in imperious form as the revered revolutionary. Engaging urban battles towards the end help to ward off a growing sense of familiarity with the plot.
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2009
There's no better time to tell the tale of the Cuban revolution than on its 50th anniversary. However, this was not a tale well told. I found the movie to drag on with a consistent lack of focus. It was almost as if the director didn't know what exactly he wanted to say about the story and none of the scenes stand out as being particularly memorable.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ October 16, 2009
The figure of Che Guevara, like Hitler and Stalin before him, comes with such an overwhelming amount of intellectual and ideological baggage that it seems ridiculous that anyone, especially Steven Soderbergh, would attempt to make a definitive biopic. Political films of the last ten years, whether the highly cerebral and fascinating Downfall or the more tongue-in-cheek and popcorn Enemy at the Gates, achieve their credibility with regard to key historical figures by limiting themselves to a key series of events in their life, which form a microcosm. Successful films like this know too well that a definitive portrayal is impossible to capture in two hours, and merely making this biopic a two-parter is not enough to salvage it.

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.
rayman0071
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2009
This has nothing to do with the other version that was made in 1969 under the same title. Part One or Chapter One of "Che" is the first half of director Steven Soderbergh's four hour formal masterpiece which was considered one of the best films of 2008. The work is about the iconic revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara(played brilliantly by Benicio Del Toro) While it is rewarding not to mention fascinating to watch the two halves in one sitting,the first half functions suprisingly well as a self-contained film,partly because it has enough styles and settings for three movies(which specific locations in Mexico City,New York City,all over Cuba).

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.
Super Reviewer
March 24, 2009
I was anticipating this film because I am a fan of Soderbergh and also a big fan of Del Toro. I wasn't exactly disappointed, but I was a little confused by the end of the film. I can attribute that to the fact that I would probably enjoy the entire four hour version instead of just getting a taste here with the first chapter. Del Toro's acting is amazing and I contend that he is one of the most naturalistic actors we have out there right now. I could honestly watch him in anything. The cinematography is beautiful and I was glad to see Soderergh didn't go with too many different film stocks in this chapter a la Traffic. As a director and cinematographer, he has a great understanding of composing shots and it came out looking great. I guess my biggest problem is that Soderergh and the screenwriter expect you to know a lot about the Cuban revolution going into the film and, not being one of those people, I felt really confused during some stretches of the film. People come and go and seem to be important parts of the revolution, but you never get a chance to know them. Even Che seems a little mysterious as much as Del Toro tries to bring out his more humanistic qualities. I guess I was expecting a little deeper insight into the person more than a history lesson that's slight on the details.
Super Reviewer
½ October 22, 2008
The first part of Che isn't a bad piece of filmmaking. Stephen Soderbergh brings his usual style which definitely works and does an amazing job of bringing aesthetic authenticity And Benicio Del Toro is amazing as usual. Admittedly my knowledge of Guevara doesn't extend far beyond a Wikipedia page and even though it pains me to admit that the finer details of the story were sometimes hard to follow, the gorgeous scenery and cinematography more than made up for it. I wasn't exactly willing to stay up until 5:30 in the morning to see where this goes with the second part, but I'm still curious.
Super Reviewer
February 3, 2009
If you've ever sat around and wondered why that hairy man is on so many T-Shirts and posters then give Che a watch. It dictates Che's campaign, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, in Cuba. Soderbergh wonderfully captures the essence of Che and perfectly recreates what made him so fascinating to the world. The use of different aesthetics to capture different periods in time is excellent. Unlike some time hopping biopics we are always aware of where we are in the story. It also keeps it's focus on the one campaign, with short snippets of an interview and UN speeches spliced in. Excellent pacing keeps the story fresh and exciting. The decision to make the film as two chapters is also a great one. Che: Part One feels complete as a film and an experience. Del Toro is unforgettable and I can't wait for Part Two.
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