The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)

Terry Gilliam first read Don Quixote in 1989 and decided to turn it into a movie right away. It's only in 2000 that he had his first shot at making the film, but everything went wrong and the making of the movie became a documentary about the failure at making the movie, Lost in La Mancha. Last May, after 18 years the first attempt, and nearly 30 years after it was originally conceived, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote finally saw the light at Cannes.

The story follows Toby Grisoni (Adam Driver), a cynical advertising director who is struggling with the production of a commercial featuring Don Quixote. One night, he stumbles upon an old DVD of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, an amateur film that Toby made as a student a decade earlier. He then discovers that the village where he made the film is just a short drive away and heads over there only to discover that the shoemaker (Jonathan Pryce) he cast in the leading role now believes he is the real Don Quixote and that Toby is Sancho Panza. Toby is soon pulled into the world of Don Quixote and embarks on a series of adventures that mixes dreams and reality.

Gilliam's film has a wonderful beginning, as the story immediately captures your attention and pulls you in the world that mixes fantasy, dreams and reality Gilliam has created. Unfortunately, as it unfolds, the story gets more and more confusing, chaotic, and it's difficult to understand what the hell is going on; there are too many subplots that intertwine in a forced manner which only makes the story more confusing, furthermore there are dismissed pretty soon, and it feels like Gilliam completely forgot about writing them in the first place. The ending is just as confusing —I watched the entire movie twice and I'm still not sure what I saw— and, as the ending credits roll, you are left with nothing but a sour taste in your mouth.

In addition to the messy plot, the script also features a lot of unnecessary, long and absurd dialogues and characters that keep transforming as the film moves forward.

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The acting, on the other hand, is more than solid, which is as a huge surprise considering how poor the screenplay is. Adam Driver gives yet another charismatic performance as Toby, the cynical, arrogant American filmmaker; his Toby is a narcissist and skeptical but at the same time very likeable and sympathetic, and his attempts at humour always pay off. Jonathan Pryce does a wonderful job as the man who seemingly lost his mind as he believes to be the real Don Quixote. Joanna Ribeira gives an interesting performance as Angelica, a young woman whose life was ruined by being cast as a teenager in Toby's old film.

In addition, the settings Gilliam choose to shot the film are gorgeous, the production design and costumes are wonderful, the cinematography by Nicola Pecorini is great, and the score fits the film very well.

Ultimately though, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is a huge disappointment. The performances are charming and the visuals are good but the script is all over the place, it's not even clear what genre the film is supposed to be —one moment it feels like it's supposed to be a serious movie, the next one as if it's a parody movie.


  1. I still want to see this as I love Terry Gilliam and I'll watch anything he does. I just hope the film is better than the lame musical version from the 1970s.

    1. I haven't seen that but I'm sure this is better as I've heard nothing but bad things about that one.

  2. Oh no...I love Terry Gilliam and it’s sad to hear about this film but I will still see this

  3. Starting off good and ending up jumbled is pretty much Gillian's thing at this point. lol. I do want to see this for Adam Driver but I'm in no rush.