I’ve been reluctant to write about my experience watching Che mostly because I don’t really have anything new to add to whatever a lot of people here have said already. I watched the roadshow version on my birthday and it was a great way to spend my afternoon off. The first thing that struck me about the film is how this film is not really about Che, per se. Or at least not a full-fledged biopic about the man, his life and his ideas. There are no expositional scenes about his childhood. Nor are there episodes that lead to epiphanies where he sees his life’s mission ahead of him. Rather, the film just focuses on observing Che at work in two different campaigns and feels like a documentary-type recreation of these particular segments of his life. I know some people had problems with what wasn’t included and the choice of what was included. I really didn’t care about that. I am merely judging the film for what it’s trying to do and am fine with whatever got left out. FWIW, I have no clear opinion on the man at the end of the movie. So, at least to my mind, the movie neither glorifies nor vilifies Che Guevara.
Part I is more straightforward and more plot-driven I suppose. I really enjoyed the beginning where we see newsreel footage of Batista’s rise to power in Cuba and then witness Castro and Che meeting at a dinner party in Mexico City. The rest of part I is pretty much just the training of guerilla forces in Cuba. I too loved the black-and-white documentary-like sequences in New York. The scenes where he is just hanging out with the men and joking and talking to them were just so great to watch. Part Two starts off almost like a spy story where we are told that Che has disappeared from public view and is nowhere to be found. We join him in Bolivia where he is in disguise and where the rest of Part 2 takes place. While Part 1 feels exciting and exhilarating, Part 2 feels doomed right from the start. There is just this sense that things are not quite coming together the way they should. In this half, we are pretty much with Che every single step of the way and this is the part where I felt both his strengths and his flaws were clearly on display. This is the part that is grittier and more jittery. There are quite a few scnes where we see that the Bolivian farmers and soldiers that Che is trying to recruit are not quite convinced of his beliefs and ideas. There is a sense of hopeless to the entire movie and despite this, I found the entire sequence in the forest exciting to watch. The ending is pretty great in that his death, rather than being heroic, is so procedural and just extremely lonely.
I thought Benicio was totally amazing and was surprised by how easy it was to sit through both parts consecutively. I had a really good time watching this and think watching it on the big screen with the two parts screening back to back was the ideal way for me to watch this.