Flawed yet fantastic...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 08/16/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I won't deny that this film is flawed, but BY GOD IS IT AMBITIOUS, and that speaks volumes for it. Clocking in at nearly five hours, there is a lot of ground covered in Soderbergh's epic film, and while it isn't all covered as clearly or as effectively as one may want, it is all covered with an obvious tinge of respect and admiration for everything that this man stood for.
This film is thoroughly engaging.
Starting from his early years and then chronically his steady climb to the top, each part of this two-part documentary-style biopic works exceedingly well to establish a lot of who this man was, inside and out. Like I mentioned, there are flaws here, some of them more obvious than others, but in the end they seem to fade away to reveal an extremely well crafted look at a man we may not know a lot about.
The films first part fluctuates between Che's Cuban campaign and his visit to New York City. The way that Soderbergh shifts between focal points adds a stylistic layer to the film, with crisp black and white imagery that permeates the New York visit, illuminating it so-to-speak. The grit that is exposed in the guerrilla warfare is devastatingly real. While Soderbergh maintains a very clear and visceral imagery, there is such authentic carnage captured here. Nothing looks artificial or embellished. Every gunshot, explosion, wound...everything feels very real, which only adds to the documentary approach to the films execution. The second part makes a drastic jump to the later years of Che's work, dropping him in Bolivia where he met his end. This section lacks the style of the first (the focal shifts are not as evident or as polished) but it maintains the slick yet authentic attention to detail that made the first section so compelling.
There is a lot of material that is not broached here, which leads to a less than complete picture of who Che really was, but there is so much passion stirred within the moments caught here that it becomes almost insignificant a complaint. I would have liked to see Che made out to be a more morally complex character, but from a pure filmmaking standpoint, this film is close to perfection. This is a classic example of bending to Hollywood standards without compromising artistic integrity. Soderbergh certainly makes a film he's undoubtedly proud of, but he also makes something that is curiously accessible. One may balk at that statement, stating that a film with a 4+ hour running time is not accessible, but I beg to differ.
The performances are very well executed here, but one thing to make clear is that this is not an actor's film. Benicio Del Toro is ravishingly good here, but it is a very distant performance. The focal point of the film is NOT the actor but the story being told, which I commend (even if my whole love for film stems from the performances emitted on screen) because it allows the audience to remove themselves from `Del Toro' and focus on Che. That said, every actor here works well within his strengths to create a cohesive and approachable chemistry with one another. This nature of acting contributes to the films authenticity and gritty rawness.
This is not a film for everyone. That should be clear. But, if you are intrigued by historical epics that capture the heart and spirit of a time, a place and a man then this film should captivate you. It may not be a `one-sitting' kind of film (I lounged out this weekend and soaked it all in at once, but I understand if breaking it up in parts is an easier swallow) but it is a film that you should sit through at least once. While I may not have walked away knowing all there is to know about Che, I did walk away understanding his journey, his struggle and his viewpoint a whole lot clearer."
Great movie about a revolutionary icon
Brian F. Fassbender | Calabash, NC, USA | 08/31/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie comes in two parts that portray Che Guevara's later life in which he fought alongside Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution (part 1), and his leadership in the revolutionary struggles in Bolivia in the late 1960s (part 2). This movie makes you feel like you are in the jungle with bombs and explosives going off. "Che" doesn't pander to the pop icon that Guevara has become over the decades since his death. The movie tells a story of a man who died fighting for what he believed in. Another good movie to watch that tells a story about Guevara is "The Motorcycle Diaries" which is about Che's travels throughout South America as a younger man. Benicio Del Toro does a powerful and fantastic job as Guevara."Che" is definitely worth a look."