Lost in La Mancha


Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 35
  2. Negative: 2 out of 35

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Critic Reviews

  1. Wildly sad, funny and terrific documentary.
  2. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    An excruciatingly entertaining portrait of the filmmaking process that no Hollywood studio would ever allow to be shown. But Gilliam, bless his impish, obsessive heart, is anything but a Hollywood type.
  3. This is a sad and funny true-life tale that speaks volumes about the difficulties of independent filmmaking.
  4. 90
    An ideal film for movie buffs, who are bound to delight in each new misfortune even as they sympathize with the documentarians' sometimes inflated vision of a tortured genius at work.
  5. 90
    Watching it is like being trapped in one of those nightmares where you need to get somewhere, fast, and you're distracted and delayed at every turn. Only in this case, the nightmare is happening to someone else, and it's costing an awful lot of money.
  6. Records an accident while it's happening, revealing a situation that makes you laugh again and again while weeping, metaphorically at least, for the sheer frustration of it all.
  7. 88
    This documentary could have been a simple downer. Instead, it's a giddy, manic-depressive roller coaster - because it brings us eye to eye with Gilliam.
  8. Nothing more than a modest, streamlined ''making of...'' diary about a movie that never got made -- it's ''Project Greenlight'' with bigger stars and bigger disasters.
  9. 80
    At once bitterly funny and devastating, Lost In La Mancha sides with Gilliam in form and spirit, piecing together the train wreck with snaky humor and interludes that cleverly mimic his Monty Python collage animations.
  10. The documentary is fascinating, but hardly enjoyable. It's like watching ants eat an elephant.
  11. Like rubbernecking motorists, we can't help but watch with lurid fascination.
  12. 80
    Too bad for Gilliam and everyone involved, but in the departments of spectacle and schadenfreude, great fun for us.
  13. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Lost in La Mancha, a documentary about a movie that never got made, is more involving -- and heartbreaking -- than many movies that do get made.
  14. 80
    The equation of Gilliam with Quixote is so obvious to everyone involved that Fulton and Pepe can hardly be blamed for adopting it.
  15. 80
    After watching the fascinating and compelling new documentary Lost in La Mancha, you may forever wonder how it is that movies are made at all.
  16. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    There's no shortage of disaster stories in the history of film production, but none have been recorded with such frankness, immediacy and aching sense of disappointment.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    It will fascinate and possibly even delight cinephiles. Who does not enjoy gawking at accidents, particularly those in which there are no fatalities and the sad story unfolds in almost slow-motion clarity?
  18. Lost in La Mancha basically catches "Don Quixote" in free fall…It's our loss nonetheless. Gilliam is one of the great film fantasists of our age, and one expects he would have done Cervantes proud.
  19. Captures one of the wildest, most heartbreaking episodes in Gilliam's career.
  20. 75
    You can interpret Lost in La Mancha as a sort of triumph of the creative spirit. Gilliam's darkest gallows humor always comes with a smile.
  21. In the end, it's not much fun to watch a brave artist getting his dream kicked out of him.
  22. 75
    Fulton and Pepe have created an extraordinary document. Hilarious and heartbreaking.
  23. 75
    A fascinating record of how the movie fell apart, piece by piece, with everything short of a natural disaster conspiring against the filmmaker.
  24. 75
    Lost in La Mancha, which started life as one of those documentaries you get free on a DVD, ended as the record of swift and devastating disaster.
  25. 75
    When Gilliam is finally forced to admit defeat, it is nothing short of heartbreaking - for audiences, too, as the few shots that made it into the can hold such promise.
  26. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It is an honest, dumbstruck, not particularly deep demonstration of how insanely difficult it is to make a movie, any movie, no matter how blithe the end result may appear on screen.
  27. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Squirmily funny documentary.
  28. Throughout, the documentary is fun and engaging, even whimsical when using (to good effect) illustrations and Gilliam’s own storyboards.
  29. 67
    Privy to virtually all phases of the debacle, the filmmakers have created the behind-the-camera equivalent of a slo-mo crash test.
  30. Gilliam himself is a joy to behold. His wit stays sharp even as his fortunes dull, and the conditions that conspire against him only prove the mettle in our man of La Mancha.
  31. The film should be required viewing for all aspiring filmmakers, but the story's road-accident appeal is universal.
  32. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    You can't help feeling that what this enterprise required was Louis B. Mayer, or, though one has no wish to be cruel, Harry Cohn. [3 February 2003, p.98]
  33. The movie neither inspires us to pine for what might've been nor makes Gilliam-style filmmaking seem like a noble pursuit.
  34. So this is not, as vaunted, a documentary about a film destroyed by temperaments and tizzies. It is the account of a medical catastrophe that could have spoiled the opening of a supermarket.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jan 26, 2011
    Kind of a boring mockumentary. Depp was good but it just wasn't anything special. So many opportunities for a laugh fell by the wayside. IfKind of a boring mockumentary. Depp was good but it just wasn't anything special. So many opportunities for a laugh fell by the wayside. If this is an actual documentary I don't buy it. Full Review »