The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Rated 2.0

Terry Gilliam has been trying to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote for nearly 30 years. The most public of his efforts was one in 2000 effort starring Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort when he actually got to the point of rolling camera. So it was with a little bit of shock that I found myself sitting down for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a finished film directed by Terry Gilliam, almost 20 years after the documentary Lost in La Mancha depicted the collapse of Gilliam’s earlier attempt to make the movie with Johnny Depp. As a Gilliam fan, it is with a heavy heart that I report the film is—not too surprisingly—quite the mess, the result of too many revamps and adjustments over the years. The problems are not with the performances. Adam Driver does an excellent job stepping in for Depp as Toby, a frantic, disillusioned TV commercial director who longs for the esoteric days of his not-too-distant filmmaking past (a character clearly modeled after Gilliam himself). Jonathan Pryce proves to be a perfect choice for Don Quixote—or, rather, a cobbler given an acting gig who goes so method in his approach that he believes he’s the real Quixote. This is the first Gilliam film shot on video, and the visual richness that accompanied his previous films is nowhere to be found. Gilliam’s often violent and harried style, accompanied by sometimes tight, claustrophobic visuals, doesn’t translate to the video lens. Much of this movie is just a spastic mess.