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With: Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgård, Olga Kurylenko, Joana Ribeiro, Óscar Jaenada, Jason Watkins, Sergi López, Rossy de Palma, Hovik Keuchkerian, Jordi Mollá
Written by: Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 132
Date: 04/19/2019

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2019)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

First Come, First Cervantes

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Terry Gilliam's long-dreamed-of project finally comes to light in a great, long, wandering, bizarre, fantastic movie, filled with personal signature touches, yet still honoring Miguel de Cervantes.

In The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, filmmaker Toby Grisoni (Adam Driver) is in Spain shooting a commercial that involves the literary characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. After a bad day on set, a gypsy sells him a DVD that turns out to be Toby's own black-and-white student film from ten years earlier. He discovers that their location isn't far from where he shot that film, and goes searching for his one-time leading lady Angelica (Joana Ribeiro).

Instead, he discovers his old Quixote (Jonathan Pryce), who is now convinced that he is the real thing, and has become a tourist attraction. Quixote escapes and, convinced that Toby is Sancho Panza, takes him along, searching for adventures. Before long, the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur.

Truthfully, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is probably not for casual fans; it's almost essential to have some knowledge of the book, as well as some idea of the nature of Gilliam's work. Viewers that appreciated the wild, visionary madnesses of Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus will feel right at home here.

Gilliam vividly tunes into Cervantes's complex themes, such as a denouncement of reality or an embracing of lost values, as well as a keen awareness of modernism, and coats these and other ideas with new cinematic layers. The movie is funny and tragic, playful and dark, hopefully romantic and heartbreaking, at the same time. It's also frantic, difficult to nail down, and without purchase.

It's like crazy dreams and hallucinations banging around with snippets of reality. Driver does his best to anchor all this, but, understandably, his character goes a little nutty in reaction to everything around him. However, it's great to see Pryce back with Gilliam — they made Brazil together — and as such a lovable Quixote. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is a challenge, but very much worth the effort.

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