A. O. SCOTT writes: On Wednesday morning festivalgoers — or at least the hordes of journalists who stumble into the Salle Lumière every day at 8:30 after a few hours' sleep and a hasty café au lait — were given a bit of a break. In a departure, there was no competition press screening on the schedule, which provided some of us with an opportunity to glance at the trades, have a second café au lait and rest our eyes in anticipation of a long night of revolutionary struggle.
Starting at 6:30 in the evening there would be two almost simultaneous screenings of "Che," Steven Soderbergh's nearly four-and-a-half-hour exploration of the life of Ernesto Guevara, the asthmatic Argentine doctor who became a leader of Castro's revolution and, posthumously, a boon to the T-shirt vendors of the world.
The expectations surrounding "Che" could hardly have been higher. Mr. Soderbergh, surprise winner of the Palme d'Or in 1989 for "Sex, Lies and Videotape," has emerged since then as one of the most protean and interesting of American filmmakers, exploring an astonishing range of genres and styles with consistent skill, intelligence and audacity. Not every movie has been great, but they have all been different. And not many directors would follow commercial froth like "Oceans Thirteen" with a digitally shot, Spanish-language epic about a Marxist militant.