American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Che Guevara is conventionally depicted either as a saint of revolution, or a ruthless executioner. Steven Soderbergh's epic biography "Che" doesn't feel the need to define him. It is not written from the point of view of history, but from Guevara's own POV on a day-to-day basis in the process of overthrowing the Batista regime in Cuba and then failing to repeat his success in Bolivia. Both parts of the film are based on his writings, including a diary in Bolivia written in the field, day to day.
The film plays in two parts, named "The Argentine" and "Guerrilla." It resists the temptation to pump up the volume, to outline Che (Benicio Del Toro) against the horizon, to touch conventional biographical bases. In Cuba, we join him in mid-stream. We learn that he is a doctor, but not how and why he became one. It is a given that he is a revolutionary. He is a natural leader of men. Fidel Castro is his comrade, but the film does not show them in a detailed relationship; much of the time, they are apart. There isn't an explanation of why he chose to secretly leave Cuba after the revolution, no reference to his time in the Congo, no explanation about why he chose Bolivia as his next field of operations, no reference to the political decisions he made as a young man motorcycling across South America (as described in the 2004 film "The Motorcycle Diaries").
"Che" is all in the present tense. He has made an irrevocable decision to overthrow governments, he explains why in his descriptions of injustice, he identifies with peasants and not with his own ruling class, and although he is nominally a Communist, we do not hear discussion of theory and ideology. He seems completely focused on the task immediately before him. His method is to give voice to popular resentment against a dictator, win the support of the people and demoralize opposing armies of unenthusiastic soldiers. He needs few men because he has a powerful idea behind him.
That method worked in Cuba and failed in Bolivia. Soderbergh's 258-minute film works as an arc: Upward to victory, a pause with his family in Argentina, downward to defeat. The scenes in Argentina show him with his second wife, Aleida (Catalina Sandino Moreno), and children, but do not engage in why he left them, how his wife really feels, how he feels about them. A wanted person, he has disguised himself so successfully that his children do not recognize him as he presides over the dinner table. His wife shared his political ideas but must have had deep feelings about a man who would leave his children to lead a revolutionary war in another country; but we don't hear them, and in a way it's a relief to be spared the conventional scenes of recrimination. It is all as it is.