‘Che’ = ‘Havana’s Gate’

Posted by · 4:59 pm · September 1st, 2008


Call it Havana’s Gate. Steven Soderbergh’s elephantine account of the rise and deification of revolutionary icon Ernesto (Che) Guevara could prove as deadly to the director’s career as Heaven’s Gate was to Michael Cimino’s. Running a bladder-bursting 4 hours and 22 minutes (split over two parts), it reeks of authenticity but also self-indulgence. A potentially great performance by Benicio Del Toro in the title role is buried beneath Soderbergh’s stylistic tics and an almost complete lack of dramatic tension. It feels like every plodding jungle bootstep of Che and his band of rebels is shown, first in Cuba and later in Bolivia, but we never really get to know the man whose face launched a million T-shirts.

Pete Howell has also given high marks to Ed Harris’s “Appaloosa” and Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married.” Neither was my cup of tea, and the former was an outright disappointment of potential, but I expect there to be plenty of fans to go around for each.  Especially “Rachel,” with a delicious duo on screen in the form of Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie Dewitt. Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, eat your hearts out.

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5 responses so far

  • 1 9-01-2008 at 5:39 pm

    Mr. Gittes said...

    At least Soderbergh has The Informant with Matt Damon. Perhaps that will get him back on track.

  • 2 9-02-2008 at 2:01 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Soderbergh is such a self-starter, I can’t really imagine any film being a career-killer – particularly when he’s so adept at making studio pictures.

    He’s had numerous misfires before. Onwards and upwards.

  • 3 9-02-2008 at 5:29 am

    John Foote said...

    And they called “Reds” Warren’s Gate, and “Dances with Wolves” no less than Kevin’s Gate, and each was neither…cannot imagine “Che” being anything less than brilliant.

  • 4 9-02-2008 at 7:44 am

    Jamie said...

    Che is simultaneously brilliant and frustrating. The lack of traditional biopic moments makes some of the film’s smaller problems (the lack of consistency in Spanish accents, a random Matt Damon cameo) more glaring, but it is overall a beautiful work and not deserving of the comparison.

  • 5 9-02-2008 at 8:09 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    By the way, am I the only one who thinks time has been quite kind to Heaven’s Gate?