We just walked in the door after the four-and-a-half hour screening of Steven Soderbergh's Che, one of the most anticipated films at the Cannes Film Festival, and I just had to bang out a quick post to say ... wow. The film is just amazing, in every possible way. I went into it a bit trepidatiously; four-plus hours of guerrilla warfare was either going to be awesome or very, very bad. I walked out feeling like I'd just had the cinematic equivalent of winning the Lotto, and I'm still on a high from the film.
James will have a full review up soon (yeah, he won the coin toss on that one), but for now, here's my immediate reaction. Consensus among many of the very smart people I know here at Cannes (well, except for Variety, apparently) is that Che will almost definitely win the Palm d'Or, and if Benecio del Toro doesn't win the Best Actor Oscar come January, there's something wrong with the world.
Soderbergh's direction is smart and assured; the film is incredibly shot and edited, the use of music is subtle, restrained and always appropriate and evocative, and the script handles the subject matter deftly, showing us more about the man behind the revolutionary history without beating us about the head and shoulders with it.
Che is everything a biopic should be, and del Toro's performance is nothing short of astounding. And yes, the film needs to be that long, and it needs -- MUST -- be shown elsewhere just as it is here; not as two separate films, but as one epic masterpiece with a brief intermission between Cuba and Bolivia. The line to get into the screening was the longest I've seen here (and believe me, that is saying a lot), and thank the cinematic gods that we got in line early, because I don't think more than 40 or so blue press badges behind me got into the screening. There were a lot of very disappointed folks tonight.
One nice touch -- they provided Che snack bags at intermission with a sandwich, bottled water and a Kit-Kat at the intermission. I've never seen so many people psyched about a candy bar, but it was much appreciated and we really needed the sustenance to carry us through the second half. Great, great film, and if you're fortunate enough to attend a fest where it's playing in the future (it has Telluride written all over it, probably Toronto as well), do not miss it.