Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Che - Part Two

Che - Part Two; biography/ drama, USA/ France/ Spain, 2008; D: Steven Soderbergh, S: Benicio Del Toro, Pablo Duran, Ezequiel Duran, Othello Rensoli, Norman Santiago, Franka Potente, Lou Diamond Phillips, Matt Damon

After the success in Cuba, in '67 'Che' Guevara secretly goes to Bolivia to try to start another revolution, also citing exploitation and huge poverty of the workers by the regime, in this case Rene Barrientos, who is backed by the US. However, after months of training of several volunteers, including one woman, Tania, the rebellion never gains momentum because the inhabitants are suspicious towards them while the Bolivian army is supported by the CIA. Plagued by hunger and lack of people, the rebels collapse, while Che is arrested and executed by the Bolivian army.

In this second (and weaker) part of Steven Soderbergh's duology about revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, the story focuses itself on his last days when he tried to repeat the success of his revolution in Cuba with another revolution in Bolivia. In one sentence, Soderbergh and writer Peter Buchman easily explain what were the motives for Che going there - when a rebel asks him if the conditions are right for an uprising, he replies with: "When children work in the coal mines, when most coal miners die by the age of 30, when people have no hospitals, then I think that the conditions are right." Filmmed in Spanish and with an effort to give a good chronology of events, "Che - Part Two" is authentic, but unexciting nonetheless, a rather standard biopic that did everything formally right, but lacks inspiration and true passion. Often mechanical and sometimes even monotone, the story is still interesting for its daring theme of exploitation of Latin America and tries to ignite the viewers to talk and discuss about it. Soderbergh portrays Che almost as Spartacus, which drew some criticism for black and white solutions and idealization, while others consider it fitting. The supporting characters were thinly developed: one noticeable example is Franka Potente's character Tania, the only woman among the rebels, who is unfortunately barely more than an extra. It may be just an example of one of those 'look-a-like' roles, but Benicio Del Toro is excellent in the leading role. Why he wasn't even nominated for an Oscar, while other 'look-a-like' biopic actors won the award, "The Last King of Scotland" or "Lincoln" for instance, remains a curiosity.


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