Review of 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote'

Toby (Adam Driver) is a jaded director attempting to film “Don Quixote” who, on one his frequent excursions into the Spanish countryside stumbles across the actor from his original college film who believes himself to be Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce) - originally a man named Javier who Toby discovered repairing shoes. Believing Toby to be his loyal “squirrel” (squire) Sancho Pancho the two set out on a series of adventures where Toby is forced to come to grips with the consequences of the filming of his original film 10 years previous including the tragic fate of Angelica (Joana Ribeiro), a young woman who endeared herself to Toby those years ago who has fallen into the clutches of the Russian tycoon Alexei Miiskin (Jordi Mollà).

This has to be the most cursed film ever having begun production in August 2000 it was only completed in 2017 due to financial pressures, the search of director Terry Gilliam for perfection, deaths of cast members (including John Hurt as Quixote) and other cast changes. But, more importantly, is it any good? Yeah, it is not that bad. Quirky and interesting, it seems to continually keep you guessing with the line between reality and fantasy becoming more and more blurred as the film goes on. The effects are good but this is very much a rough and ready affair more concerned with telling a (unusual) story. Surprisingly it is fairly easy to follow throughout though towards the middle it gets a bit confusing only to come back to a semblance of “reality” at the end. Often it is tiring to hear Toby whining yet again about something Quixote is doing but, of course, this is the nature of the humour of this film - An ironic and cynical clash of delusion (?) and reality. Disappointingly, throughout the film there is little question regarding the sanity of Quixote which somewhat diminishes the interest were it not a bit more ambiguous.

Adam Driver as Toby plays the role of an increasingly confused and cynical director very convincingly as things quickly deteriorate into insanity (the final minutes of the film, without giving anything away, perfectly suit the film and his character…though not altogether an unexpected climax). Jonathan Pryce as the knight-errant Don Quixote, seeking, in his own unique way, to put the world right, is perfectly cast as the completely OTT character blinded to any sort of reality that unfolds around him yet. Many of the supporting cast simply play out fairly cookie-cutter roles such as Alexei Miiskin as the “baddie” who Quixote and Toby have to defeat to save the fair maiden as the action heats up towards the end.

Generally, an odd film and worth it for fans of Gilliam's other quirky works such as “Brazil” or “Jaberwocky”. If you are patient and simply let the insanity flow over you and get over the often clunky execution it is quite interesting. A refreshing change from standard Hollywood fayre that is not afraid to make fun of modern life.

I was lucky to attend the European Premiere of this film as part of the London Film Festival in 2018 where Terry Gilliam, along with a number from the cast and the writer talked to us before and after the film. When asked whether he would be sad to see the back of the film he said: “F*** no.”

(Left to right) Presenter, Terry Gilliam (Director), Tony Grisoni (writer), Olga Kurylenko (actress, “Jacqui”) and Jonathan Pryce (actor, “Don Quixote”) at the London Film Festival 2018 “Laugh Gala” European premiere October 16, 2018.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2018-10-20

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

Studio: Alacran Pictures

Year: 2018

Length: 132 minutes

Genre: Fantasy

Other reviewed films by Terry Gilliam: