The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Dir. Terry Gilliam / Dur. 132 mins
In A Nutshell:- 30 years in the making, Terry Gilliam’s suitably Gilliam-esque take on the Don Quixote story finally hits the big screen.
The Good:- This is a tricky one to review objectively - I;ve been following this film’s progress for nearly half my life so there’s an unusual weight of expectation upon it (which is even acknowledged in an opening on-screen graphic) and also, having watched the documentary and read about it, I was expecting the story to take a certain direction which it then didn’t (the script having been almost continually rewritten over the years, according to the Q&A afterwards). It’s very much thematically on a par with previous Gilliam works such as The Fisher King and Baron Munchausen which also deal with a central (potentially) delusional figure and the blurring of the lines between what is real and what isn’t. It dials down some of the more fantastical elements you would expect from a Gilliam film but that works for the story they’re trying to tell and adds to the questioning of what is and isn’t fantasy when they are used. Cast-wise, Adam Driver is well cast as the objectionable ad exec at the heart of it but the film belongs to Jonathan Pryce who is delightful to watch as Quixote.
The Bad:- There are a couple of moments of breaking the fourth that feel a little jarring but ultimately this is a film about making films so I guess it fits. The female characters feel a little underserved, particularly Olga Kurylenko’s sex-obsessed character.
The Verdict:- In some respects, my knowledge about previous attempts to make this both hampered and enhanced the experience. I definitely need to watch it again without that expectation on it so that I can take it in for the film that it actually is. Overall, though, it was a satisfying watch for me as a fan of his work and felt like a fitting summary of themes that he has playing with throughout his career.
Festival Tidbit:- I got to see Terry Gilliam in person and watch the UK premiere of a film he made in the same cinema as him! As a lifelong Monty Python fan and fan of Terry Gilliam as a filmmaker, this was really rather exciting for me.
Next Time:- That’s your lot for festival updates, all done. And I think that's a good place to leave off on the month of film reviews. It's a long theme to sustain and is probably making things a little one note around here. Three weeks is still a good run for a theme! So what will the next blog bring? Let's all find out together, shall we? (Yup, I don't know either...)