In his three-part biographical epic Carlos, Olivier Assayas seems to have approached his subject—Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the international terrorist known throughout the 1970s and '80s as Carlos the Jackal—in a manner similar to the way Steven Soderbergh approached another leftist-revolutionary icon, Che Guevara, in his two-part Che. Like Soderbergh, Assayas seems to have decided that the only honest way to approach his enigmatic central figure is to focus obsessively on historical verisimilitude, stand back, and allow us to draw our own conclusions.
So begins my second dispatch from this year's New York Film Festival, in which I grapple with Olivier Assayas's monumental Carlos (2010). It's screening on Oct. 2 during the festival; afterward, last I've heard, the film will be shown in three parts on the Sundance Channel before being released theatrically in both its full 319-minute version and a three-hour cut later in the fall. In whatever form, it's very much worth seeing and having an opinion on. (For a more thorough take on this film, take a look at Nick Schager's review at Slant Magazine proper.)