True-life stories rarely make great movies.
Oh, sure, you can probably read me a list of big important Oscar-winning based-on-a-true-story movies without even trying, and I'll happily admit there are exceptions to the rule, but I stand by my basic position. Typically, "true" movies are about Important Things, or they feature Great Performances, and most of the time when I hear that a film is a dramatic retelling of real events or a biography of a real person, the end result strikes me as antiseptic, dull.
The problem, of course, is reverence towards one's subject. If you're Richard Attenborough and you're making a movie about Gandhi, you're going to err on the side of respect every time, and why wouldn't you? These real-life figures cast enormous cultural shadows, and trying to dramatize their lives has got to be like swimming in handcuffs.
If you ask me, Steven Soderbergh hit that particular creative wall at about 150 miles per hour with "Che," his two-part 600-hour biopic about Che Guevara. I can respect the level of committment from Benecio Del Toro and admire the filmmaking, but I can still readily admit that the movie is inert, a seemingly endless montage of bearded dudes introducing themselves to each other in the jungle.
[more after the jump]