After decades of attempts, Terry Gilliam finally finished The Man Who Killed Don Quixote this year, debuting the film at Cannes back in May. But while the actual soul-crushing work of making the damn movie is done, Gilliam has since struggled to get his film distributed in international markets, facing off against legal disputes and money issues. One thing Gilliam isn’t struggling with, though: Critics, who’ve given mostly tepid reviews to the Jonathan Pryce/Adam Driver-starring film. “I don’t mind a bad review when it’s about the film I made,” Gilliam told reporters in Mexico this week, noting that his movies have always been appreciated by very particular batches of audiences.
And hey, if we’d dodged seven consecutive Drag Me To Hell-style curses to finish our fucking movie after 20-odd years of off-and-on-and-then-oh-god-there’s-a-landslide production, we’d be pretty sanguine about the notices, too. Really, Gilliam says he’s fine with critics disliking the movie, as long as it feels like they put in a good faith effort to see what he was going for. (“Survival,” is our guess.)
For one thing, he’s already gotten the endorsement of the only people he actually cares about—two of the world’s biggest Cervantes scholars, who both told him he “captured the spirit” of the celebrated 17th century novelist. Gilliam’s response: “I went, fuck me I’m happy,” which we have to assume is not a reaction that 2018's Cervantes scholars are used to getting to one of their pronouncements.
Also, it’s not like critics have ever known exactly what to make of Gilliam’s work, which often prizes imagery and dream logic over more practical film-making concerns. Even Brazil, generally regarded as a masterpiece, was divisive at the time of its 1985 release.. Or, to put it in Gilliam’s words: “Every film I’ve made always splits, usually the critics even more than the audience. Even with Brazil when we first started screening half the audience would walk out. Now when we show Brazil it’s this classic and all that bullshit, all that crap.”