Che: part 1 (The Argentine) – not quite a film by itself
Who was Ernesto “Che” Guevara and why do so many students have his image in their dorms and on t-shirts? Well it is up to Steven Soderbergh to enlighten them (and us) in a two part film which they are unlikely to watch and this in itself is a shame.
The highly underrated Benicio Del Toro plays Guevara in “emotionally closed off mode” unlike the Guevara we all saw in films like The Motorcycle Diaries. Originally the movie “Che” was a four hour epic before being split (Kill Bill style) so that we can all appreciate this very serious subject in smaller bite-sized chunks. As always I don’t appreciate this, as it seems like an attempt at doubling up the amount of money it earns.
Whatever you want to call it: “Che: part 1” or “The Argentine”, this review covers only the first part of Soderbergh’s epic and sadly it doesn’t quite stand out as a film in its own right .
In 1956, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara (Benicio Del Toro) and a band of Castro-led Cuban exiles mobilize an army to topple the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista.
I am confused! Perhaps I do not pay enough attention to the news or am not as well read as others, but the most I knew of Guevara was that he was a revolutionary (or is that revolutionist) and for some reason, wore a beret. At the same age that he started this “jaunt” across Cuba, I was still claiming to have been “combing my hair” in the bathroom. Clearly I have had far too much of a cushy life!
Del Toro plays a character that you’d think was difficult to like. The subject of communism is not a light one and strangely he (and the character he plays) manages to pull you into the subject without lecturing you about it. I suppose there is a type of charm from Del Toro which is an incredible task since you see him firing a gun or bazooka at the enemy. Your empathy from this character is helped by not showing any close shots of him murdering anyone. Indeed as I recall, I cannot name any time where he actually fires a weapon and it is shown that the victim is in fact dead. It plays mostly like The A-Team where so many bullets are fired and yet there is an extreme absence of blood!
The beginning of this film takes us from what must be soon after the events during The Motorcycle Diaries. It is a shame then that Gael García Bernal was not able to reprise his role. Don’t get me wrong, Del Toro impresses along the way, but it would have been interesting to see the change in someone from film to film.
Despite being an interesting watch though, it doesn’t exactly challenge you along the way. It is difficult to tell whether the second film is necessary to complete the story and if this is the case, then I would have rather watched the four hour epic. I despise the fact that I have to pay again for a film that wasn’t complete in the first place. Do I not pay enough money at the cinema?
Che: part 1 stands alone as an okay film. Unfortunately it is not “excellent” until the final acts have been watched. It is because of this that the rating for Che is so low. If I had to stop any film I enjoyed part of the way through I’d be the same. Perhaps Che: Part 2 can rectify my problem with Part 1, but until I see it, despite Soderbergh’s and Del Toro’s best efforts, this is merely a good DVD recommendation.
The film is not finished! How am I supposed to gain an opinion if the film is not complete? Che shouldn’t have been split (much like Kill Bill and Grindhouse). I wish we, as a society would get out of the habit of splitting films.
I enjoyed Che: part 1 (The Argentine) but I would have enjoyed it so much more if I had seen it all (i.e. parts 1 and 2). You never know. I may just see part 2 and think it’s absolutely spot-on! However, that still doesn’t change the fact that it shouldn’t have been split in the first bloody place!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5