Though this certainly isn’t a movie I’ll be returning to any time soon, like a lot of Steven Soderbergh’s less mainstream efforts, I find it pretty easy to admire. When the two parts here were merged from “The Argentine” and “Guerrilla” to simply “Che”, it of course became subject to my “if you use a definitive title, you better be definitive” rule – and I also wondered how the two parts would differ … would they differ, even, in tone and substance, eg, and should I review them as separate entities?
Well, I was pleasantly surprised. The work as a whole is pretty definitive. Benicio Del Toro is Che and I can forgive the length of the whole thing because it kind of turns it into an endurance test. You’re mentally exhausted by the end of watching both parts in succession as I did, and I believe you should be. The parts do feel very much like separate films but also work perfectly well watched as a whole. Clearly the biggest difference between the two parts is that one deals in success while the other deals in failure; the latter being much more subdued and with far less dialogue than the first part.
The ending is powerful, a POV view of Che’s very last moments on this plane of existence – one feels almost like the audience itself is being put out of its misery, so much does it feel as though we’ve followed each one of the hundreds of days accounted for in title cards. I’ll admit I know little of the history involved here, and one of the failings of the movie I found was that either it plain didn’t clearly enough explain the context or it never engaged me enough for me to pick up on it. This isn’t a front to back telling of Che’s life, focusing more in the separate films on his greatest triumph and his final failure. But there are nuggets of wisdom imparted in the dialogue, and it certainly left me wanting to know more. Technically I can’t fault it, and though it’s not entirely my cup of tea it shows that Soderbergh is still a guy who makes a movie pretty much exactly what it should be.