Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France/Spain/USA, 2008. Guerrilla Films, Wild Bunch, Telecinco, Laura Bickford Productions, Morena Films, Ministerio de Cultura. Screenplay by Peter Buchman, based on the memoir Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. Cinematography by Steven Soderbergh. Produced by Laura Bickford, Benicio Del Toro. Music by Alberto Iglesias. Production Design by Antxon Gomez. Costume Design by Bina Daigeler. Film Editing by Pablo Zumarraga.
Mammoth historical epic by Steven Soderbergh that attempts to capture not only the historical headlines made by Argentinean revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara in his short lifetime, but also the feeling of being in his company on a day-to-day basis. The first half of the four hour film (continued in Part 2) takes our protagonist from a time not long after The Motorcycle Diaries ends, young and itching for change while living in Cuba, where he meets Fidel Castro and starts on the path to revolution. The film is all exciting battles and glorious warfare, sun-drenched beaches and heated personalities as this group of idealist dreamers turn a country on its ear and change its history forever. The film is also a success thanks to Benicio Del Toro‘s devilishly subtle performance in the title role, calling no attention to himself but putting across the magnificent gravity and charisma of a man who couldn’t help but make a name for himself in the world. The film was split into two parts for theatrical release (though a 4-hour road version did play for a short period of time), but it’s very difficult to watch the first half without continuing on to its second.
The Criterion Collection: #496
Cannes Film Festival Award: Best Actor (Benicio Del Toro)
Toronto International Film Festival: 2008