Benicio del Toro surprised the fickle crowd at the Cannes Film Festival this past weekend by taking home the top acting prize for his portrayal of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's epic, four-hour biopic, simply titled Che.
The film itself—originally concieved as a duet of two-hour features titled The Argentine and Guerilla but later stitched together into one sprawling film—has recieved lukewarm reviews at best. Daily Variety claims "Che seems diminished by the way he's portrayed" in Soderbergh's biopic, while the Hollywood Reporter speculates that the $58-million passion project is "destined for a venue like HBO or Showtime."
Benicio's win is a big boost for the film, which with a tepid critical response and limited commercial appeal (four-hours-plus running time, experimental format, Spanish language dialogue) undoubtedly has producers shaking in their boots.
Che doesn't yet have a distributor, but the film will likely get picked up by a specialty division of a major studio that will market it on the strength of Benicio's performance and possibly make a bid to get him an Oscar nomination. We have to admit we're discouraged by the negative buzz Che is getting so far, but Benicio's performance is one we won't want to miss—and if it means getting him into a tuxedo come Oscar night, we'll gladly sit through the four hour running time!