Part 1: The Argentine
Director: Steven Soderbergh. Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Demián Bichir, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Rodrigo Santoro, Roberto Santana, Alfredo De Quesada, Kahlil Mendez, Édgar Ramírez, Victor Rasuk, Jsu Garcia, Elvira Mínguez, Julia Ormond. Screenplay: Peter Buchman (based on the memoir Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War by Ernesto "Che" Guevara).

Part 2: Guerrilla
Director: Steven Soderbergh. Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Demián Bichir, Frank Potente, Kahlil Mendez, Édgar Ramírez, Joaquim de Almeida, Carlos Bardem, Benjamín Benítez, Lou Diamond Phillips, Rodrigo Santoro, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Marc-André Grondin, Ramon Fernandez, Armando Riesco, Jordi Mollà, Norman Santiago, Matt Damon. Screenplay: Peter Buchman and Benjamin A. van der Veen (based on the memoir Bolivian Diary by Ernesto "Che" Guevara).

Photo © 2008 MGM/Columbia Pictures
Back in 1999 when they were filming Erin Brockovich together, Julia Roberts apparently got a hold of the script for Steven Soderbergh's follow-up film Traffic and asked for the part that later went to Catherine Zeta-Jones, because she wanted to test her range with a harsher, less likeable role. Soderbergh balked because, as he cites himself saying to Roberts, "It would require you to extinguish everything that I find compelling about you."

Now, closing in on ten years later, Soderbergh has unveiled his four-hour opus about two essential episodes in the political and personal history of Ernesto "Che" Guevara (Benicio Del Toro), cleaved into two parts called The Argentine and Guerrilla though it depends when and whom you ask whether this was always meant to be the case. But there's another sense in which Che is a film in two parts, and they both ironically recall Soderbergh's smart rationale for forestalling Julia Roberts. Che, both in and beyond the sum of its parts, serves to extinguish almost every superficial thing that millions upon millions of people, especially as time has passed, have found compelling about Che Guevara. B

Cannes Film Festival: Best Actor (Del Toro)

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