The film follows Toby (Adam Driver), a cynical and arrogant director, who became famous for his debut feature film shot in rural Spain. A few years after that film, he was shooting a commercial not far from the location where he was filming his debut. He decides to visit that village and realizes that his stay has left its mark on several residents. First of all, it refers to Javier Sanchez (Jonathan Pryce), an old shoemaker, who is mistaken that he is Don Quixote personally, while for him Toby is, in fact, his faithful companion Sancho Panza…
Their reunion begins a series of comic and surreal adventures during which Toby is forced to face the fact that he has changed the hopes and dreams of the inhabitants of a small Spanish village. Along the way, he will not be able to distinguish between fantasy, dreams and reality, but he will learn to regain his humanity. The plot of the film is centered around Don Quixote, we follow the man who killed him, but everything can be seen as a story about Don Quixote in ourselves, who fights every day with some of our personal windmills.
This project of Terry Gilliam is considered by many to be cursed and I can only imagine how much perseverance it took to realize it. The director’s dream has reached a mythical status in film circles, and it is quite expected that something that has been waiting for a long time will bring with it high expectations. I believe that these expectations are the reason why this film, with its manic energy, is considered by many to be a slight disappointment. I agree that at times he is a bit confused, that he has awkward references to Islamic extremism and a vaguely lively side heroine, but he left a very positive impression on me.
The grotesque and silly nature of the fantasy elements are the embellishments for a story that is mostly found in the real world. Javier’s beliefs are so contagious that over time, Toby begins to believe in that fantasy, doing so by filling his pockets with gold coins and avoiding persecutors who were trained as the Spanish Inquisition. As the real world recedes, so we come to Gilliam’s exuberant imagination, which is at times serious, and at times almost childish. Following his ideas, we reach a dense labyrinth of slightly confused scenes and events, which will either be fun for you or will give you a headache.
I connected the delusion of the old shoemaker with Gilliam himself, who is afraid that he came in his later years when he has nothing more to say, and that he may be forgotten or even ridiculed. This film was his windmill for almost a quarter of a century and he finally mastered it. All the problems and incidents that accompanied this film only fueled my reactions, I was thrilled with the simple fact that it was finished at all, even though it lacked a bit of rhythm (and money for production). Gilliam was and remains a dreamer in the materialistic world, a relic of a bygone era, and in this film, between the lines, he talks about creativity that comes from artistic freedom and true independence.
This film is another proof of how interesting Adam Driver is to watch. He copes very well in sudden changes of fantasy and reality and easily delivers skepticism and narcissism, as well as empathy. Without him in the lead role, this film could very easily have passed as if it had been made in the last century. The other day I mentioned Jonathan Price, who starred in the movie The Wife, and this time the man thrilled me. According to Gilliam, he has been waiting for this role for fifteen years, and you can see how much he enjoyed and enjoyed Don Quixote. I believe that the previously predicted Jean Rochefort and the late John Hurt would also be great, but Mr. Price is practically the perfect choice. Stellan Skarsgård, Olga Kurylenko and the very nice Joana Ribeiro also appear in supporting roles.