Cast: Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgard, Olga Kurylenko
Director: Terry Gilliam
Well, after 30 years of some sort of development hell, Terry Gilliam was finally able to release his passion project. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is the culmination of decades worth of work, failed casting, budget security, and distributor issues. So, what does all that time and effort give audiences? I don’t know if it was worth waiting years for, but it’s certainly enjoyable even if it is a bit odd. If you can get past the initial weirdness, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is a movie that was a great balance of traditional action scenes while also having some of the funniest dialogue and slapstick scenes in its 132 minute runtime.
The film follows Toby Grisoni (Driver), an advertising director who is shooting a commercial in Spain where he originally filmed his student film a decade ago. Lacking the inspiration to move forward with the commercial, he travels into town where he filmed his student movie to see if he can track down the original star. When he comes across Javier (Pryce), the man he cast as Don Quixote in that movie, he realizes that Javier has embraced the role and still sees himself as the titular character. Together, the two get caught up in Javier’s adventures as Toby wants to head back to set while Javier is obsessed with living out the part of Don Quixote to the best of his ability. Naturally, this film is odd at its very core. You might find yourself confused and wondering why things are happen in the order they appear in. That being said, these weird moments are offset by the pure comedy and joy that Gilliam has created for us. Specifically, the contrast between Toby and Javier makes for some of the funniest interactions of the movie and drive many of the plot points forward. Seeing Javier live in a world of his own creation and Toby do his best just to get back to set and film a simple commercial goes from bizarre to hilarious in a matter of minutes. When you have two talented actors like Driver and Pryce, it’s no secret that whatever environment you place them in they’ll succeed, so after all this time trying to find the right people for the job it looks like Gilliam got the right two for these parts. Gilliam has worked on many hilarious movies in the past including the Monty Python movies, so it’s no surprise that he brings that level of humor to this movie. For a movie that Gilliam has been working on for longer than I’ve been alive, you’d the concept would be a little more concrete and ironed out, but from an abstract and artistic perspective the film does work. Taking into consideration the size and scale of the atmosphere created and the humor to compliment it, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is a dream fully realized for Gilliam and a solid piece of entertainment for nearly everyone else regardless of your personal tastes.
Overall, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote took more than its fair share of time to reach our screens, and I don’t know if it was exactly worth all that time. Sure it is an entertaining and enjoyable movie, but I don’t think I’d wait 30 years for The Godfather, let alone The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. This definitely isn’t going to be everyone’s favorite movie, but there’s a certain level of quirkiness and charm to the movie that powers through its extended runtime and packs some solid jokes to make it another solid addition to Gilliam’s career.
Overall Score: 7/10