Thanks to the readers who pointed out that, indeed, Che was panned by Variety’s Todd McCarthy, who writes:
Neither half feels remotely like a stand-alone film that would satisfy audiences on its own, while the entirety offers far too many aggravations for the paltry rewards it offers. Scattered partisans are likely to step forward, but pic in its current form is a commercial impossibility except on television or DVD.
Over the years, Soderbergh has occasionally displayed a disregard for audience expectations in films such as “Full Frontal,” “Solaris” and “The Good German,” and presumably makes the “Ocean’s” films in order to earn the opportunity to undertake such projects. But “Che” is too big a roll of the dice to pass of as an experiment, as it’s got to meet both high standards both commercially and artistically. The demanding running time also forces a comparison to such rare works as “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Reds” and other bio-historical epics. Unfortunately, “Che” doesn’t feel epic–just long.
Ouch. Still, it may be a bit early to count it out entirely – for one thing, it’s two movies shown at Cannes as one, which surely must have been a big bummer, or should I say, big butt-number. Also, he isn’t finished editing it, I don’t think, which means that the long slog could shorten a bit with “fewer notes.” On the other hand, I’ve seen Soderbergh hit and miss. And when he misses, he misses BIG. I know because I sat through Solaris, which I count among the worst films I’ve ever seen. I admire his balls, let’s face it, but often his creative flails don’t pay off. We’ll be waiting.