Che: Part 1

Che: Part 1

3.1 out of 5 based on 22 reviews
Che: Part 1

Omniscore:

Certificate
Genre Drama
Director Steven Soderbergh
Cast Demian Bichir, Santiago Cabrera, Elvira Minguez, Jorge Perugorria, Edgar Ramirez, Victor Rasuk, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Rodrigo Santoro, Unax Ugalde, Yul Vazquez Benicio Del Toro
Studio IFC Films
Release Date January 2009
Running Time 123 minutes
 

Reviews

Time Out

Geoff Andrew

(Like the performances and the staging of action sequences, the camerawork – Soderbergh himself shooting with the new, high-def RED camera – is superb throughout.) This formal audacity is matched by an eschewal of traditional heroics; Soderbergh is interested in what it entails to fight for revolutionary ideals: not just courage, cunning, expertise, loyalty, but the hardships, sacrifices… and the cost of mistakes. It’s not a Hollywood-style movie – it demands patience and proper attention – but it’s a great movie, and rewards magnificently.

01/01/2009

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The Observer

Philip French

It's an intelligent, fast-moving, well-researched film, based in part on Che's posthumously published Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War, offering both a convincing account of the bitter, hard-fought struggle and a portrait of a great and complex revolutionary. He was first valued for his medical skills, but soon became such an essential adviser that Fidel tried to keep him out of harm's way.

04/01/2009

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Empire Magazine

Andrew Male

Part One of Soderbergh’s Che epic dismantles the clichés and myths to craft a dream-like if frustrating essay on the heroism and the claustrophobia of war, perfectly centred by a compelling star performance.

05/01/2009

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Total Film

Kevin Harley

Committed and commanding, slow but stealthy, political and powerful: details are omitted, but Che still sees Soderbergh flexing fierce focus and control, while Del Toro leads with tact and muscle. The full four-hour flick grips; two hours’ll fly by, easy.

02/01/2009

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

For all its severity and reserve, Soderbergh's Che is an adventure: massively serious and ambitious. It certainly underlines the film-maker's determination to maintain an absence of auteur identity: the director who made the Ocean's Eleven movies and the remake of Solaris has come up with something very different from either. It is far from being a biopic, more a cinematic extrapolation of Che's iconic status, and by that token it may exasperate some. Others will be engrossed by this flawed, sprawling, intriguing movie.

02/01/2009

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The Times

Wendy Ide

Soderbergh's approach requires audience commitment, but concentration is rewarded as the choppy little segments gradually come together to form a coherent whole... The tone throughout is perhaps a little over-earnest, but the film does capture the dynamism and optimism of newly forged political ideals. As Che, Benicio Del Toro does sterling work.

01/01/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Mike McCahill

What I liked about Part One – what makes it a perfect fit with Soderbergh's independent sensibilities – is its desire to demystify the revolution, in presenting it as a (literally) grass-roots undertaking... There are flaws in the writing – Che's interview with an American journalist (Julia Ormond) doesn't yield all the information we need, sometimes leaving us to fend for ourselves amongst camouflaged and nameless warriors – yet even in these stretches, the intelligence and integrity of Soderbergh's project shines through.

01/01/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Tim Robey

The best I can do is "guerrilla biopic", but even that gives the impression of a portrait, and this film is a landscape, in its very bones. It's rangy and contemplative, a war picture about attrition, made with a painstaking fidelity to the factual record of Che's achievements, or those it chooses to tackle... It might have been the role of Benicio Del Toro's career 10 years ago, when the actor's danger and charisma could have illuminated Che the radical pin-up and given the film its focus. Here, he is too often studied and remote, head down in a book, while Soderbergh's egghead war simulation rumbles all around him.

01/01/2009

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The Sunday Times

Cosmo Landesman

The film itself involved seven years of solid research — and it seems to take 10 years to watch. Soderbergh is too fascinated with the mechanics and military minutiae of guerrilla warfare. Consequently, the last part of the film gets bogged down in repetitive battle scenes... Del Toro sheds his usual downbeat cool for a more stiff and formal style of acting. His performance — and the film as a whole — does nothing to challenge the myth of Che or give us a more intimate look at the man.

04/01/2009

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Scotland on Sunday

Siobhan Synnot

In an interesting but problematically academic epic, the film's ace is Del Toro, even though his energy levels are sometimes kept so low he resembles a drunken bear more than El Comandante. Che should be a vibrant personality, as culturally intricate as Lenin, Bob Dylan or Charlemagne, but Soderbergh keeps draining his man of emotional juice.

28/12/2009

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The Mirror

Mark Adams

Del Toro is impressive, sporting a straggly beard and long hair and giving off just the right amount of moodiness and political fervour. To a certain extent though, Soderbergh keeps the story straightforward and subdued, rather than layering in the action and the drama. At times it even gets a bit dull as Che and his pals hike through the Cuban outback engaging in relatively good-natured firefights - but oddly never getting overly dishevelled during their endeavours.

28/12/2008

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The New York Times

A.O. Scott

But the film’s formal sophistication is ultimately an evasion of the moral reckoning that Ernesto Guevara, more than 40 years and several million T-shirts after his death, surely deserves. Mr. Soderbergh once again offers a master class in filmmaking. As history, though, “Che” is finally not epic but romance. It takes great care to be true to the factual record, but it is, nonetheless, a fairy tale.

12/12/2008

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The Independent on Sunday

Nicholas Barber

It's always watchable, and it often looks stunning. Soderbergh – who doubles as the director of photography – uses a state-of-the-art digital camera to pick out every leaf and vine in the jungle with a clarity worthy of a David Attenborough series. But Guevara himself is never seen so clearly. Soderbergh keeps his distance at all times, resisting close-ups, intimate conversations, or anything that might have revealed more about the man beneath the beret.

04/01/2009

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The Los Angeles Times

Sheri Linden

"Che" scraps vague notions for specifics. Its focus is guerrilla warfare. Guevara was a Marxist intellectual, but in the two chapters of his life depicted here -- the successful Cuban Revolution of the late 1950s and the failed attempt, nearly a decade later, to orchestrate an uprising in Bolivia -- he was, above all, a strategist, tactician and battlefield medic. The film is hardly devoid of incident, but for those who prefer their biopics constructed from aha moments (breakthroughs and breakdowns), it might feel stubbornly leeched of drama or thematic thrust.

12/12/2008

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The Evening Standard

Derek Malcolm

The entire film is an extraordinary achievement even if the second part, which deals with Che’s abortive Bolivian mission and his capture and death, is much the most watchable... If you discover a lot about the process and progress of the revolution, this is definitely not the cultural hero of myth, breathtakingly bathed in revolutionary light. Nor is he the Stalinist whose economic mistakes were legion. In fact, he is a figure around whom everything swirls but whose character remains curiously opaque.

18/12/2008

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The Daily Express

Allan Hunter

A film of weighty ideas and political rhetoric, Che finds its human heart in the stalwart performance of Del Toro, who depicts Guevara as a gentle giant... There is almost something saintly about him and it is Del Toro’s award-winning performance that lends an emotional edge to a movie that risks feeling more like a dry, well-intentioned history lesson than an entirely accessible drama.

02/01/2009

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The Financial Times

Nigel Andres

The first part of Steven Soderbergh’s ambitious diptych is a crash-course narrative of the conquest of Cuba, interspersed with black-and-white flash-forwards to Che’s ambassadorial visit to New York in 1964 to address the UN. The ’64 scenes mix images of the real and dramatised Guevara, played by Benicio Del Toro with staring eyes, beard, fiery tongue and the sense of a terrestrial actor valiantly but vainly pursuing an ethereal myth.

01/01/2009

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Uncut Magazine

Tom Charity

Che – and incidentally, Benicio Del Toro is superb – is in every scene, a naturally authoritative figure, a perfect field commander with an uncanny grasp of the lie of the land. Yet we learn precious little else about the man, or even what he’s fighting for. Soderbergh is obsessed with the “how”, not the “why”, and by the end – after long, pitched street battle for the town of Santa Clara – you’ll feel like you’ve earned your stripes.

23/04/2009

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Channel 4 Film

Trevor Johnston

Che is definitely not your common or garden screen bio. Soderbergh's expansive exploration of the man behind the T-shirt is more interested in the technicalities of history-in-the-making than providing an emotionally immersive portrait of Che's individual struggles. Del Toro beams the confidence and determination of a leader, but it's the escalating intensity and credibility of the guerrilla action set-pieces which impress most.

23/04/2009

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Variety

Todd McCarthy

Oddly, “Che” seems more about denial of audience expectations and pleasure than it does about providing the intellectual and historical heft that would serve as a good alternative. Soderbergh withholds much in addition to dramatic modulation, narrative thrust and psychological insight: A feeling of revolutionary zeal, the literal transformation of Ernesto into Che, his marriages and family life... Overall, Del Toro’s performance, while entirely credible, is surprisingly recessive...

21/05/2008

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

As it stands, the docudrama of Part One feels slightly plodding; its one-thing-after-another format may be true to the way things happened, but it lends the film no satisfactory shape or intricacy. For all the drama that surrounded them, Soderbergh never gets under the skin of either Che Guevara or Fidel Castro. We can only hope that the psychological dimensions will be illuminated in the next part.

02/01/2009

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The Daily Mail

Chris Tookey

A strong early candidate for the most agonisingly tedious film of 2009 is this first part of Steven Soderbergh's hagiography of Che Guevara... Peter Buchman's slack, disorganised screenplay never probes Che's character or challenges his beliefs, and sparks into life only in the final half hour: a prolonged action sequence in which Guevara captures the town of Santa Clara. The rest is as insanely long-winded as a speech by Che's old mate, Fidel Castro.

01/01/2009

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