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Written by Peter Buchman and Benjamin A. van der Veen
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Benicio del Toro, Demien Bachir, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Franka Potente

Ernesto Che Guevera: To survive here, to win, you have to live as if you’ve already died.

Steven Soderbergh, the Academy Award winning director of TRAFFIC, would like you to meet someone you already know. He insists though that you only think you know this man and furthermore, that it will take a little over four hours to get to know him the way one should. That man is Cuban revolutionary leader, Ernesto Che Guevera, and Soderbergh’s film is simply, CHE. Broken into two parts, the first entitled “The Argentine” and the second entitled, “Guerilla”, CHE seems daunting on the surface but once you break past that, it is a engrossing experience that is much more forthcoming and straightforward than you would have expected. I admit, I too expected a pompous overwrought work, given the run time and subject matter but Soderbergh continues to impress me with his subtlety and his touch, soft yet still commanding.

Over the course of the two films, Soderbergh gives us Guevera’s rise as a revolutionary and his ultimate and subsequent demise. Guevera is given to us via Benicio del Toro, a man who was practically ignored during awards season for no good reason that I can figure. Del Toro is a patient and practical Che. He understands his mission; he understands its importance concerning the greater good of his country; and he understands that he is just one man making up a much larger whole. Del Toro plays Guevera with such delicate restraint and an untold inner depth that is very rarely allowed to pass his guarded surface. It is an engaging experience to watch him embody this historical figure’s skin and it is his practically perfect performance that gives roots to a film about a man with no specific roots to plant.

CHE is not just about the man but also a telling history lesson that plays out as naturally as one would hope an epic of this size would. And while Soderbergh’s portrayal is decidedly fair and frank, his film is a might stronger than that.


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