Russian oligarchs, Spanish cobblers, US filmmakers, British film producers, power, money, love, combine in The Man who Killed Don Quixote to breed a comic adventure with a heart.
Terry Gilliam directs two top-notch actors in playful adventure film, at moments spectacular, with usual biting, satirical humour.
The film seems to shoot off in many directions, pulled along by a thread of romantic interest, but it all comes together at the end when Toby, the US film director (Adam Driver) finally connects with the better side of himself, when Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce) comes back to reality after years, if not centuries, of sad delusion.
The closing film at the Cannes Film Festival has been in the making for more than 20 years. Gilliam and the festival were on the edge of their seats for a while as a dispute between the director and a former producer Paulo Branco threatened to scupper the plan. On 10th May, a court ruling enabled the Festival to screen the film.
Co-producer Pandora da Cunha Telles is with Ukbar Productions.
"Terry is a genius. He puts in everything in every scene, everything that is needed. Some directors take them out, he puts them in. So you have the impression that he is creating something very, very special."
A team of European producers took up the project, Entre Chien et Loup from Belgium, French firm Kinology, Alacran from the UK, Tornasol from Spain and Ukbar from Portugal amongst others.
Da Cunha Telles said the project appealed because of the combination between director Gilliam's adventurous vision, "the director of Brazil and the classic by Cervantes. How do you deconstruct a book like that and not adapt it? He turned it over and make it different. I think it was a perfect match."
The film was shot in Portugal. The female lead is Joana Ribeira, but other familiar names appear, like Olga Kurylenko, Stellan Skarsgard, Rossy de Palma and Sergi Lopez.
At long last, after 19 years since the cameras started rolling, cast replacements, producer changes, Terry Gilliam's film is out.
Cannes Film Festival executive director, Thierry Frémaux, has called it "a labour of love."
It will go down in cinema history also for all the literal trials and tribulations encountered since its beginnings on paper in the 1990s. The disjointed notion of time, of past and present marked The Man who Killed Don Quixote also in real-life.