Che DVD Review
Steven Soderbergh’s sprawling and ambitious biopic of the iconic comandante Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara solemnly marches you into the confused action of Cuba’s military coup in what was always going to be a drawn-out affair.
Giving credit to Soderbergh’s unique vision there’s very little of the war film about the movie with much of the action taking on a dispassionate, almost documentarian format. But with a runtime of 270 minutes it sometimes feels like a war of attrition.
The first half of the two part film captures Che during the Cuban campaign, from his earliest discussions with Fidel Castro to the crucial assault on the Batista stronghold of Santa Clara in 1958. While part two deals with Che’s involvement in the disastrous attempt to inspire revolution in US backed Bolivia.
Del Toro’s performance throughout is bare, giving little away about Guevara’s feelings on killing his compatriots in order to bring about the revolution he so fiercely believed in.
While the film is an interesting history lesson brought to life there isn’t enough depth to enamour the film to anyone looking for an action flick or a revealing portrait of the man himself.
Soderbergh’s direction is thorough and detailed yet, like the camouflaged troops laying low in the forest, something appears missing. Che cuts an aloof and reproving figure rather than an inspirational one never relaxing or giving anything away.
The two films chronicle the diffeent parts of his life story: his victory and later downfall. Soderbergh’s cinematography and Juan Pedro de Gaspar’s art direction create a superbly persuasive sense of mood, time and place, though perhaps Del Toro’s performance was a little too aloof and austere.
Che himself may well have been more fluent and educated, and more charming, than the film gives him credit for.