Thursday, 3 March 2011

Che: Part One (2009) - Steven Soderbergh

The problem with Che is that it doesn’t know whether it’s an historical dramatisation or a history lesson. 

The film comes in two parts, depicting the role of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro’s right-hand-man, during the Cuban revolution.  It takes on two distinct cinematic styles.  Firstly, we have Che at the end of the revolution, dealing with political negotiations.  It’s filmed in black and white with a handheld camera, which, along with the interview voiceover, creates a documentary, factual style.  This provides a framework for the rest of the film, filmed in colour as a dramatisation of the revolution’s events.  The juxtaposition is ineffective, with the main story appearing overly sentimental and the black and white sections seeming cold and overly factual by contrast.  Had Soderburgh chosen one style, the film would’ve been more enjoyable.

Further, the film consists largely of short scenes and the editing lacks continuity.  As such, the narrative doesn’t flow and feels more convoluted than it should.  Del Toro does a convincing performance, but in general Che lacks characterisation.  Had the film been only one part, the narrative would’ve been more concise, focused and entertaining.

The Cuban revolution is undoubtedly an important part of modern history, but Che is just a bore.  Needless to say, I won’t be watching Part Two.