The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

(2018)

Terry Gilliam's long-gestating adventure comedy adapted from Miguel de Cervantes's classic novel. A cynical advertising man (Adam Driver), finds himself trapped in the outrageous delusions of an old Spanish shoe-maker (Jonathan Pryce) who believes himself to be Don Quixote.... More

Former Monty Python Gilliam started work on the film in 1989 but failed to get it across the line, most famously with his abandoned 1998 production - the subject of the excellent documentary Lost in La Mancha. Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor and Jack O'Connell have all been attached to star over the years. Reportedly, it was Adam Driver's interest in the role that finally helped secure funding for the film.Hide

Flicks Review

Terry Gilliam’s latest announces itself as a movie “25 years in the making and unmaking”, a self-congratulatory bit of text alluding to its tortured path to the screen. The results could well be the director’s best film in a few decades, but that’s more an indicator of his late-career drop off than any great quality here.... More

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is often visually stunning (it’s definitely a huge improvement over the blandness of Gilliam’s last film The Zero Theorem), but it’s also characteristically exhausting, and after an enthusiastic start, an air of mediocrity settles over proceedings.

The first 30 minutes operate as a sort of Hollywood satire as Adam Driver’s director helms a Don Quixote-themed commercial in Spain. When he tracks down the star of a student film he shot years earlier (also about Quixote), reality and fantasy start to merge, and Gilliam dials the energy up to ‘shrill’.

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Jonathan Pryce plays the actor from Driver’s film, who’s become convinced that he is the fictional Spanish knight. He and Driver are hugely likable actors, but they’ve clearly been instructed to go BIG here, with patience-testing results. Gilliam characters can be so outré they tip over from charming into repellent, so it’s testament to Driver in particular that he remains watchable. We can only guess how the originally-cast Johnny Depp would have fared in the role, but ‘insufferable’ is a safe guess.

Once the usual abundance of whimsy kicks in, things get bogged down in Gilliam’s usual tics: Dutch angles pile up and actors yell ADR’d dialogue over each other. The film has some big ideas about storytelling, but they’re increasingly vague. It’s all very nice to look at, but it’s sloppy, and ultimately unsatisfying.Hide


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The Press Reviews

  • Even if it doesn't always come together, it does entertain, bearing all the hallmarks of Gilliam's gleefully barmiest projects. Full Review

  • If anything, it's what the director's fans most feared: a lumbering, confused, and cacophonous mess. Full Review

  • There's enough of a germ of something in Don Quixote that you find yourself shaking your head by its climax, wondering, wait, what were we talking about again? Full Review

  • Despite periods of biting comedy and some delightful old-school production heft, this is a project that would have been better left to wither on the vine. Full Review

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