A hugely talented but socially isolated computer operator is tasked by Management to prove the Zero Theorem: that the universe ends as nothing, rendering life meaningless. But meaning is what he already craves.
Toby, a cynical but supposedly genius film director finds himself trapped in the outrageous delusions of an old Spanish shoe-maker who believes himself to be Don Quixote. In the course of their comic and increasingly surreal adventures, Toby is forced to confront the tragic repercussions of a film he made in his idealistic youth - a film that changed the hopes and dreams of a small Spanish village forever. Can Toby make amends and regain his humanity? Can Don Quixote survive his madness and imminent death? Or will love conquer all?
In a 2014 television interview with France 2, Jean Rochefort, who was originally cast as Don Quixote, said about his stormy relationship with director Terry Gilliam, "I have no sympathy for him." Rochefort accused Gilliam of intentionally starving the horse used as Don Quixote's noble steed, Rossinante, for 40 days so it would look emaciated, and that the starving horse was then led around the set by dangling apples in front of its face. Rochefort also said that the horse died on set one day after he left the production. In a 2018 interview for the French magazine "L'Obs", Gilliam said he had nothing to do with the treatment of the horse and that the animal died long after filming was done. In Lost in La Mancha (2002), the horse is still alive 2 days after Rochefort left (on the 6th day of shooting), filming scenes with Johnny Depp. See more »
Gilliam's passion project sums up much of his filmography: it conveys almost all of the director's rs recurring tropes, themes and elements. It isn't an easy-to-enjoy film (mostly due to Gilliam's style), nonetheless an interesting film to watch, if not for else, because of its cursed fame.
Don Quixote is mainly about human madness, a theme Gilliam also explored in 'The Fisher King' and in 'Twelve Monkeys', two films from the time when the director started developing this movie. As for visuals, style, and the overwhelming sense of chaos that the third act conveys, it reminds of 'The Brothers Grimm' and more in particular of 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus', (coincidentally two films that also had, on lower scale, a troubled production).
'The Zero Theorem' and 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' are the only Gilliam films I found to be devoid of any direct connection with Don Quixote.
Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce pull off memorable performances. I was pretty sure about Pryce succeeding, but didn't expect Driver to be this good, especially towards the end.
Frankly, I think this film was a bit underrated. It's true that Gilliam's post-'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' generally had little critical acclaim, but I personally couldn't find anything to complain about, or better, I couldn't find anything arguable that isn't a recurring element in Gilliam's cinema: a chaotic third act, a bittersweet ending, and so on. I enjoyed watching Don Quixote, but I can imagine most of the viewers to find it either uninteresting, dull, chaotic or 'pretentious'.
Don Quixote might be Gilliam's last film. With 'The Zero Theorem' he closed his dystopia Sci-fi trilogy, now he has finally finished the film he probably was most eager to complete, so it seems to me that there are no narratives left that he intends to explore. Let's just hope that I am wrong, and Gilliam will be doing another half-dozen of movies, but otherwise, Don Quixote is the perfect conclusive film for his career. Maybe it's not his best or easier to appreciate, but definitely it is his most representative one.
40 of 59 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this