Che: Part One

Rated R

The two parts of Che are best seen together, although they have deeply different moods and styles. Steven Soderbergh’s four-hour exploration of the life of Che Guevara is probably the best attempt at epic filmmaking since, umm, I don’t know, whenever they stopped making real epics and started inserting digital warriors into fake battle scenes. Benicio del Toro is perfect as Che Guevara, a man whose acute asthma didn’t stop him from leading revolutions or smoking a lot of cigars. The first part of the film is a rapidly edited, nonlinear narrative covering the years of the Cuban revolution. Color and black-and-white sequences alternate as the story jumps from Mexico to Cuba to New York City with a frenzied and youthful pace. The second half is a straightforward linear tale, but, strangely, it’s harder to follow than the first film; it’s much more somber, telling the story of Guevara’s unsuccessful attempts at staging a revolution in Bolivia. Together, the films make an interesting artistic statement and show the range that Soderbergh, probably the most versatile living director, is capable of. If you can’t handle four hours of film, you should at least see the first part, which has more than enough action for even jaded American movie-goers who expect robot garbagemen and masked super-psychotics in their filmic fare.

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