Che (Part 1 & 2)
- Director:Steven Soderbergh
- Cast:Demián Bichir, Santiago Cabrera, Vladimir Cruz, Benicio Del Toro
- Release Date:October 01, 2009
- Distributor:Transmission Films
- Running time:264 minutes
- Film Worth:$14.00
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An extraordinary performance from Benicio Del Toro anchors this long but gripping film based on a powerful true story.
You might imagine that a 264-minute film could be a bit of a hard slog, but Steven Soderbergh's Che (released as two separate films in the US, but in Australia as a double feature with an intermission) is gripping from go to whoa. This is despite the fact that it's not a conventional biopic, presupposes knowledge of the history or at least sidesteps it, and concentrates largely on icon-of-the-left Che Guevara's gruelling and arduous guerrilla activities both before and after The Cuban Revolution.
Part One: The Argentine oscillates effectively between scenes of Che (Benicio Del Toro) as an armed rebel in fifties Cuba, and at the U.N in 1964. Fidel Castro (Demian Bichir) of course figures intermittently, as Che and his comrades bond, plan, roam through the mountains, and carry out raids. As the fight moves to Cuba's towns, the dramatic pitch rises, up to the point where - as Che puts it - "We just won the war; the revolution begins now."
Part Two: The Guerrilla finds Che resigning from all government posts, disappearing, and then resurfacing in Bolivia in 1966. As he leads his comrades through the jungle, on a quixotic quest to overthrow the right wing regime, the realities of hardship, suffering, illness, violence and death are depicted with unflinching accuracy. But so is the sense of camaraderie. And so too, as the (US-backed) enemy closes in, is an inexorable sense of impending doom.
Che is crisply filmed, brilliantly edited and looks great, alternating effectively between black-and-white and colour. Del Toro's performance is superb, and for such a powerful story, it makes many of its points obliquely or through subtle understatement. The form is impressive, and the content is deeply moving and compelling.