Che: Guerilla


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Che: Guerilla
"Certainly Soderbergh gives you a sense of the boredom of war - as the days tick by on the screen, you feel your own will to live begin to falter."

The very name evokes images of wildcat strikes by freedom fighters against massed government forces. In the course of Steven Soderbergh's film, it is diminished to the point where it seems to mean little more than bartering with the local farmers, while attempting to avoid confrontation with an army.

Although intended as a companion piece to Che: The Argentine, the two films can just as easily be considered separately as together, not least because the techniques used - right down to the aspect ratio which narrows from widescreen on Part One to 1.85:1 in the second segment - are so fundamentally different. Where The Argentine is all polemic and choppy editing, Guerilla is intended to be more personal and introspective. The result only serves to make Benicio Del Toro's Che seem even less charismatic than before.

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As he quits Cuba to wage a fresh campaign in Bolivia, there is the sense of a man driven by idealism, but he is more frequently seen mediating in petty disputes between his forces, or suffering an endless string of asthma attacks, than espousing any sort of call to arms. Perhaps this is partially the point, that revolutionaries are rarely in the William Wallace mould, which doesn't make for a satisfyingly dramatic watch.

Subsidiary characters, such as Franke Potente as a sidekick guerilla, are noticeable chiefly for their lack of development, serving only to take part in the interminable scuffles that punctuate this lacklustre exercise. Meanwhile, a cameo turn by Matt Damon is merely irritating, since it ruins the artifice.

Certainly, Soderbergh gives you a sense of the boredom of war - as the days tick by, you feel your own will to live begin to falter - but the film does not have sufficient momentum to make the diminishing of Che carry enough punch. Although these films are intended to represent two halves of a whole, showing the way in which battles in similar circumstances can just as easily be lost as won, there is no reason why this could not have been achieved in a single film.

Reviewed on: 09 Oct 2008
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Second episode in Soderbergh's meditation on the Argentine-born revolutionary, focussing on his time in Bolivia.
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Chris ****

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Peter Buchman, Benjamin A. van der Veen

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Franka Potente, Santiago Cabrera, Demián Bichir, Kahlil Mendez, Rodrigo Santoro, Yamil Adorno, Jorge Alberti, Marisé Alvarez, Ricardo Alvarez, Fernando Arroyo

Year: 2008

Runtime: 129 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France/Spain

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