Originally Published on Salty Popcorn #SydFilmFest
Toby (Adam Driver) is an advertising executive who never quite made it to Hollywood. We first catch up with him in the midst of making an advertisement using famed literary figure Don Quixote, but production troubles prove too much for Toby and he flees set, winding up in an old town he’s all too familiar with. This is the town where, many years ago, he made a student film about Don Quixote with a local villager (Jonathan Pryce) as the titular character. But as he begins to explore and reminisce, he discovers that his once-actor-friend now believes he’s the real Don Quixote, and Toby’s swept up in a time travelling adventure where the lines between fantasy and reality blur.
It’s essentially 132 minutes of Pryce having the time of his life while Driver watches, screaming “WHAT THE FUCK” every couple of minutes. Their dynamic carries this film. They pick the nonsensical plotting up off of the floor and create a new, fresh, exciting layer. Pryce is, without a doubt, the film’s standout. He’s having so much fun with this role, but his character is burdened with this unsettling sadness that mixed perfectly with the humour. He gives this his all and makes the movie.
The fact that a film as extravagant as this exists is a miracle, and it’s one of the reasons I love Gilliam so much. He just doesn’t seem to care about audience expectations. Instead, he unapologetically makes the movie he wants to make, which is commendable but doesn’t always result in the masterpiece we all hoped this would be. Slight missteps in the setup result in audience confusion, while the pacing rushes along at a swift pace but soon dies down, and this 132-minute film feels much longer. While I definitely enjoyed this movie, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved when the credits began to roll.
THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE is an unfathomable movie experience. After so many years of failed productions, I do wish I were able to like it more than I did, but its bloody weird movie, and not always in a good way. Had it not been for Pryce and Driver’s performances, I honestly don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this as much as I did. I’d say go out and judge it for yourselves, but let’s be real, that’s never going to happen. So make sure you enjoy never being able to watch this movie.
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