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The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

One word sums up director Terry Gilliam – resilience. Nowhere is that clearly seen than his latest movie ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’. After an earlier abandoned version in 2000 which featured Johnny Depp, Gilliam has spent the last twenty years trying to restart his dream project. At last after countless false starts, he achieved making it while overcoming enormous obstacles. Whether the film is great or not is immaterial, getting it done gives it kudos already and is a testament to Gilliam’s enduring creative passion.

Toby (Adam Driver) is a jaded film-maker drawn to the eccentric whims of Spanish shoemaker Javier (Jonathan Pryce). Believing himself to be the fictional character of Don Quixote, Javier takes Toby on a time-jumping journey. Taken back to a village where he previously filmed one of his earlier movies, Toby is forced to face his past. Pulled between madness and desire, both men must come to terms with their actions in order to have a future.

As with most Terry Gilliam films, ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ is unique. His movies can be an acquired taste with his vision often running away from him. ‘Quixote’ is a typical example of a Gilliam film quickly turning into a mess. That isn’t to say the performances are terrible or the production doesn’t have Gilliam’s usual directorial flourishes, it’s that the script loses its way fast with the attention span given a tough work-out.

‘Quixote’ is similar to Gilliam’s previous film ’12 Monkeys’ with its exploration of madness. Javier’s fractured mind slowly drags Toby’s down with it with fantasy and reality constantly blurred. It’s an intriguing theme constantly getting bogged down in irrelevant incident. The location shooting and production design generally paper over these narrative cracks with Driver and Pryce having a great time with their fascinating characters.

Despite the never-ending trauma Gilliam went through to make ‘Quixote’, what transpires is an often confusing muddle. It all looks amazing with the trademark Gilliam quirks intact. As a viewing experience it’s a bit of a chore but all power to Gilliam for refusing to surrender in the face of an adversity that would make Don Quixote himself proud.

Rating out of 10: 6

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