The True Don of Quixote
Chris Poche’s adaptation of the Don Quixote story, in a modern setting, balances ingenuity and incredulity. The picture is full of bemusement and sarcasm and packed with lighthearted frivolity, while also scrambling to tackle sensitive subjects and questions of whether the needs of the one should be prioritised over the needs of the many. The feature brushes on threads of mental health and makes light of more serious events such as the beheading of animals. Satire is an ineffective excuse for when the writing becomes obviously too afraid to step over certain boundaries – which is what this adaptation suffers from. Fortunately, its penchant for humor saves it.
Danny Kehoe (Tim Blake Nelson) in his quest as Don Quixote steals, lies, attacks innocent animals and disrupts prisoners doing community service. While some of these things are happily resolved at the end of the film, it begs the question of whether all that should be easily forgiven with some feel-good after events. These are especially frustrating when character has previously displayed crumbs of self-awareness. This is where the issue of mental health comes in as it is used to remove agency and accountability from the protagonist, in favour of glorifying his crimes.
The real highlight of the picture are the performances. Nelson is astounding with his character’s faux British accent, he includes a southern twist that keeps the setting intact but retains enough extravagance that it doesn’t take away from the classical theme. The actor sprinkles a lot of charisma into his role, helping the audience understand why so many of the other characters gravitate towards him, despite the ridiculousness of it all. Jacob Batalon also steadily keeps up with the straight man act.
With an over-dramatised score and perfectly calm soundtrack, the soundscape creates just enough hyperbole to accompany the quirkiness of the main character, but not so much it becomes tired. Cross-cuts of tense moments such as Kevin being bullied by adults, alongside Danny saving him after literally murdering an animal, are heightened by the crescendo of tracks one would associate with old nobility. However the juxtapositions don’t end there, with the serene shots of landscape, the neutral to warm filter and the slow piano music having an extreme tonal clash with the protagonist’s actions and the hysteria he causes, so much so that it could unsettle the viewer.
The True Don of Quixote is released digitally on demand on 2nd August 2021.
Watch the trailer for The True Don of Quixote here: