The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Described by his agent Rupert (Jason Watkins) as a genius and a visionary, commercial director Toby (Adam Driver) is lacking inspiration for his latest ad location shoot, possibly because of the distraction of his script girl and his boss’s (Stellan Skarsgård) sexually aggressive wife Jacqui (Olga Kurylenko). Then a most curious thing happens. With Toby’s Quixote left dangling from a windmill, a Gypsy (Óscar Jaenada) vendor selling local souvenirs proffers Toby’s student film on DVD, which was also based on Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th century classic in “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.”

Laura's Review: B

As if this production’s plagued history over nearly thirty years was not bad enough, two of its leads having passed away in the interim (Jean Rochefort and John Hurt), now, according to Donald Trump, the entire cast and crew should be coming down with cancer due to windmill exposure. After working on the project since 1989, Gilliam’s first attempt to film it in 2000 with Jean Rochefort and Johnny Depp ended when his Quixote’s medical problems kept him from mounting his horse, bad weather flooded sets and jets flying overhead ruined sound. The disastrous shoot resulted in the 2002 documentary “Lost in La Mancha.” Filming was to begin again with John Hurt as Quixote, right before the late actor received his cancer diagnosis. The good news is that cowriter (with “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’” Tony Grisoni)/director Terry Gilliam’s (“Brazil”) perseverance has paid off, subsequent script tweaking eliminating the need for its expensive time travel element by introducing a filmmaking back story that lends the movie a well deserved and elegantly executed meta quality. Gilliam’s always been drawn to questing madmen (“The Fisher King,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”) and now he could rightfully claim the descriptor for himself. Toby’s viewing of his student movie during a romp with Jacqui is cut short when his boss arrives. He makes an anonymous escape, now determined to seek inspiration in the small town where he did his best work ten years prior. Strutting into Raul’s (Hovik Keuchkerian) cafe expecting a hero’s welcome, he is shocked to learn that Raul’s daughter Angelica (Joana Ribeiro), his Dulcinea, is now a call girl, his Sancho Panza (Jorge Calvo) died of alcoholism and his Quixote (Jonathan Pryce) has gone mad, believing himself the actual man of La Mancha. Troubled by the apparent curse of his first film, Toby sets off and immediately comes across a dilapidated sign promising the real, live Don Quixote. Down a dirt path an old woman demands money for access and Toby enters a ramshackle hut, his student film projected on old sheets. Passing through them, Toby finds...Javier (Pryce), the old shoemaker he cast ten years ago who truly believes he is the knightly upholder of chivalry and now thinks his former director is his Sancho. So begins an adventure that flits in and out of reality with Toby wanted for arson and cuckholding, Spanish gold, an evil Russian oligarch Alexei Miiskin (Jordi Mollá) and a battle with the Knight of the Mirrors (Keuchkerian again) to save Dulcinea/Angelica. Gilliamesque touches abound, that black Knight immediately recalling an earlier one. A flashback to Toby’s student shoot reveals his and Angelica’s faces transformed when viewed through his camera lens. The three giants of “Lost in La Mancha” have a return engagement. And in the end, Gilliam ensures that ‘Don Quixote will live forever.’ Grade:

Robin's Review: B-