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Che: Part 1 (The Argentine)

For those who don't know who Che Guevara is, where have you been living the past few years?

Sadly, most youngsters now know Che as that guy on the t-shirts, but he is definitely more, more than that. And for that, we thank Steven Soderbergh, who decided it was time for the most popular revolutionary of our time to grace the big screen.

There are only two points I would like to touch on: Benicio del Toro's awesome performance, and Steven Soderbergh's very unique filmmaking style.

First, on Benicio. Now, the real Che Guevara was a little bit shorter than Benicio, but it doesn't really matter, as Che's charisma made his presence so huge as to make everyone around him feel smaller, and a bigger actor would definitely need the height advantage to portray the larger-than-life Che Guevara. But Benicio's performance is so good, so mesmerizing, that the moment he appears onscreen, all you will see is Che Guevara, not Benicio del Toro. The mustache and beard, the hair, the uniform, even the asthma attacks (I'm asthmatic myself), all these were nailed by Benicio. There are some however, who claim that Benicio's Spanish in the movie was not done with an Argentine accent, but if Benicio del Toro is the thespian that I think he is, I believe he may have tried to do the Argentine accent, but possibly didn't get it exact. Anyway, I'm not a native Spanish speaker, so I don't know anything about Spanish accents.

Second, on Steven Soderbergh. This guy is an Oscar-winning director for Traffic, a film which also won for Benicio Del Toro a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (now isn't that sweet). Soderbergh is one of the few directors that I would watch without even knowing what his movie's about. That's how much I trust in this guy's talent.

Originally, Che was screened in Cannes as a four-and-a-half-hour film, but was split into two parts for its American theatrical release. The first part, which is this film, The Argentine, chronicles the struggles of Che Guevara in the Cuban Revolution alongside the brothers Castro, and is told in an almost documentary-like fashion. And the thing that I love about Soderbergh is that he uses effective realism, deciding to shoot the entire film in Spanish. You can just imagine how any revolutionary flames may be snuffed out if this were portrayed by actors speaking with American accents in the jungles of Cuba. Soderbergh captured the real thing, the real revolution, while placing it all in context with the Cuban peasants armed with shotguns and rifles. The cinematography, the camera movement, even the music---you would not even notice them. You would feel like you were really inside the revolution, with Che Guevara as your commandante.

Other noteworthy performances are from Demián Bichir, who gave a splendid performance as Fidel Castro, and Rodrigo Santoro as Fidel's brother Raul. Ooh, Rodrigo Santoro...

Rating: Eight out of ten.

You may also want to read the review for Che: Part 2.


tina said...

new man crush? ^^

is it me, or does rodrigo santoro look like christian bale? at least, his picture on wikipedia does...

i never saw his similarity with christian bale. watch Che and you'll see what i mean. lol :))

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