Welcome to my first review, citizens! Dodge E. Camembert used to be something of a revolutionary. He marched on Washington in 1962, you know – would you believe they tried to ban Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs? Philistines.
The very same revolutionary spirit pumped through one Ernesto “Che” Guevara from 1928 to 1967. Steven Soderbergh’s Che covers the extraordinary exploits of the man, from his part in the Cuban Revolution to his failed attempt to initiate a similar uprising in Bolivia.
Split into two films, Part One deals with the glory years. We see Che growing from a timid asthmatic academic to a fierce military leader, which is beautifully and subtly handled by Benicio “mumbly Usual Suspect” Del Toro in the lead role.
There’s a little too much jumping around in time - seemingly for the sake of it - and the opening geography lesson is a bit of a bore. But Part One was certainly my favourite of the two, with a stunning climax as Che’s forces take Santa Clara street by street.
After that peak, it’s all downhill for comrade Che in Part Two. Having sneaked into Bolivia in a hilarious middle-aged man disguise, he has to contend with a stronger (US-backed) government, weak-willed subordinates and an indifferent public. It’s almost painful to watch as both the man and the myth crumble before our eyes. Like a drunk and tired Dodge at the Oscars, though, he never loses his dignity.
If Che as a whole lacks one thing, it’s a little soul. As required reading, Dodge would recommend Motorcycle Diaries before settling down with this heavy two-course meal. It provides a welcome dose of context and helps you sympathise with the quiet doctor from Argentina as he fights the good fight.