While you may be too old to hang a Che Guevara poster in your room, you are just the right age to appreciate Steven Soderbergh’s “Che”. The film stars Benicio del Toro (who also co-produced the film) as the revolutionary and follows Ernesto Che Guevara from his toppling of the Bautista government in Cuba to his defeat on the ground in Bolivia. Shot in two parts –“The Argentine” and “The Revolutionary” — the audience watches as Che Guevara grows from a dissident to a defeated revolutionary to a cult hero. IFC is showing both parts of the story, part 1 at 1:15 p.m. ET and part 2 starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Che, the historical figure, is viewed as either a hero of the revolution or a mass murderer, but the movie focuses on Che the man living his day to day life. In fact, much of the script was taken from the diary he kept with him during battles in both Cuba and Bolivia. At times the film feels almost quotidian and dull, but is consistently saved by Soderbergh’s camerawork and Benicio del Toro’s searing and almost personal portrayal of the militant. Del Toro won a well-deserved Best Actor award at Cannes for this role.
The portrait of Che through the lens of Soderbergh and del Toro is painted in unapologetic broad strokes. We know Che is a doctor and a dissident, but we don’t know where the unrest was formed (unless you saw The Motorcycle Diaries). We don’t know why Che chooses to leave Cuba after the revolution or why he chose Bolivia as the next proving ground of his revolutionary skills. Even though he is almost always on camera, the man is a mystery. But in Del Toro’s skillful hands, it’s a mystery you want to unravel.
Che, Part 1: The Argentine airs at 1:15 p.m. ET and Part 2: “The Revolutionary” starts at 3:30 p.m. ET on IFC.