The Fisher King (1991) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
182 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Redemption and Resurrection
terribracy29 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Warning: Possible spoilers.

The Fisher King, a 1991 film directed by Terry Gilliam is based on the myth of the same name-a medieval legend that tells the tale of a dying king who through betrayal and tragedy has lost the Holy Grail. Ostensibly the cup Jesus used at the last supper and into which drops of his blood were collected at the crucifixion, it is the only thing that can save him. He knows this but he is powerless to do anything about it, and although it is right in front of him, he can no longer have the ability to recognize it. It takes an innocent fool with unclouded eyes and a compassionate heart to see it and to fill it with the healing water that the Fisher King needs to be restored.

In the film version, Parry (Robin Williams) and Jack (Jeff Bridges) alternately play the fool and the king, each in retreat from his own reality and each the vehicle for the other's redemption. Their lives first intersect when Jack-a shock jock-inadvertently incites a disturbed listener to commit a horrific act of violence that destroys many lives including Parry's. Parry escapes into madness and homelessness, as in a sense does Jack (though his is manifested through alcohol and a parasitic relationship) and they are each lost in a world of guilt that they are powerless to overcome. It will take each to play the fool to the other's king to open each another's eyes to the possibility of redemption and new life.

Other characters are interwoven (Mercedes Ruehl and Amanda Plummer aptly play the love interests) but it is Parry and Jack who are both the redeemed and the redeemer in this tale. There are stops and starts and other theological and social messages that are interwoven throughout, but this is first and foremost a story about healing the wounds of others, and the importance of giving over receiving. Through Parry's redeeming act, Jack is redeemed and through Jack's redeeming act, so is Parry. Unable to heal or even see their own wounds, they clearly see the wounds of the other, and like Christ, they provide the bridge to life. The Holy Grail, visible only through the compassionate eyes of the fool, becomes the cup filled with the water of life from which they both take a drink and are resurrected.
57 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
This movie should be on everyone's "must-see" list
LJMTitle23 July 2004
A touching yet humorous tale, THE FISHER KING brings together amongst the best performances given by Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges, as well as Terry Gilliam's finest directorial effort. Solid supporting performances by Amanda Plummer and Mercedes Ruehl round out a great film that ranks among my personal favorites.

Bridges portrays an arrogant radio shock-jock, who's big mouth and flippant comments send a disturbed listener on a murderous rampage, thus ending his career. Enter Ruehl as his new enabler girlfriend, waiting patiently for him to drag himself up from the dregs, hoping to catch a ride to the top. Just when Bridges seems to have hit rock bottom, he encounters Williams, a crazed vagrant who thinks he is a knight in shining armor.

What ensues is a tale of remorse, redemption and rebirth which is made all the more magical by Gilliam's magnificent vision. Most notable is a scene which takes place in Grand Central Station where the hustle and bustle of the busy commuters dissolves into a spectacular waltz as Williams follows Plummer, the woman of his dreams. Gilliam's style makes Williams delusions come alive as the character makes the slow journey from trauma-induced insanity to stark, yet hopeful, reality.

Every character in this film undergoes a metamorphosis, each learning from the others along the transformation. It is a beautiful film to watch, and an achievement to all involved that subject matter of such depth can come across with such humor and with such beauty.
156 out of 173 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Coming From A Completely Different Direction Than Any Film Remotely Like It
jzappa7 June 2007
The Fisher King can be viewed as an oddball dramedy like several others during one's initial viewing, but then suddenly you're struck by the hallucinations of Robin Williams's character, namely the sight of the large, outlandish, scorching red figure of a demonic knight coming to kill him. Things like this seem at once to throw the film out of balance a little bit, like the film is making a straight line and suddenly makes a sharp and brief stab upward, and then back down to continue the line in the straight way it was before. One has to think about The Fisher King and realize just how largely, outlandishly, scorchingly different it is. Think about this plot when you're watching the film. You'll realize how well it modestly unravels instead of contriving itself to mystify us. The filmmakers show no ego and are not interested in impressing themselves. They are telling their vivid, dynamic story the way good films are made. The story is just completely fresh and new. And with that in mind, thinking outside the box along with Terry Gilliam and Richard LaGravanese, one shouldn't even think of the brief sporadic fantasies the film splashes at us here and there as anything so jolting.

Jeff Bridges turns in a fantastic, despicably likable performance. I say this not so much because I believe he has a universal effect on anyone who understands or enjoys the movie. I say this more because I related to him greatly. I felt like his character was very familiar with his self-centered angst, bitterness lathered on top, an emotional and sexual nature quite like mine, and frankly the performance in a serious relationship quite like mine. Bridges, who I have always thought of as a very good actor, has my kudos for understanding to the point of successful portrayal a type of person who is rarely completely understood.

Robin Williams, constantly underrated at this point for his self-indulgent bombast and personally difficult, nonstop communication of his sense of humor, is proved in this, as well as several other films I could mention, that he has true talent and feels his characters to the very core and projects as such. It is not and never has been right to reduce judgment upon him to surprisingly shameless look-at-me-fests like Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, and Good Morning, Vietnam, because he has always been tremendously capable. Above all, I think he is an actor whose work is founded upon intuition. He communicates his physical and psychological portrayal by emotional understanding and deep feeling. When you watch this film, do you not have that clutching grip upon his character's pain? Are you not taking that journey face to face with him?

Mercedes Ruehl is not a token here. She is not just the voluptuous Brooklyn Jew girlfriend who nags, criticizes men, and makes dinner the whole time. That is the way her character lays out, because that is the path the emotional position of her presence in the story leads. She is perhaps the strongest, most decisive, and understanding person of all four main characters, and believably so. She is also very sexy and very natural. Take the scene with her and Bridges stumbling with laughter down the street after the dinner scene. She is quite real in a scene that with many other players would've been annoyingly not so.

Amanda Plummer is a sad portrait of a very realistic person, ironically enough in a film that is greatly surreal. She is the lone wolf that drifts through life, crippled by a complete lack of self-assurance and with age has become extremely used to it. Plummer's rich, seldom screen time is great, very wise acting. When she is suddenly accosted by the attention and adoration of these other three people, she reacts, and I feel like I know many people who would react the same way.

The Fisher King is in my opinion the first great film Terry Gilliam ever made. He had never made a bad film before this one, but this is the film that really made me connect. It's filled with emotional understanding of the human condition and a parallel story and cinematic style that are so acutely unique and naturally offbeat. It is among the definitive Gilliam films. Perhaps the click that sounded off for a truly effective film came with the connection of very similar, very compatible perspectives between the writer and the director. It's a determined, forceful, emotional, passionate, and secretive movie.
41 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Terry Gilliam
mistresswong19 September 2002
Terry Gilliam has made a lot of good films and a couple of great ones(namely Twelve Monkeys and Brazil)this, though could well be his best.

Why ?

For starters there is the cast.Jeff Bridges,officially the most underrated actor of his generation, giving a performance that veers from one end of the spectrum to the other almost imperceptibly.From comedy to tragedy and back again.

Robin Williams- a great comedian and a better actor than he is given credit for.Fair enough he does tend to go through spells of making films primarily for his kids (Mrs.Doubtfire, Hook, Jack) but when he does decide to buckle down and do a serious role he rarely disappoints (Good Will Hunting, Insomnia, Dead Poets Society).It is with this role though that Williams gives what is the best of his career to date,as Parry. He is undoubtedly insane, but it is not yet too late for him, he justs needs someone to take the effort to save him, and if it had not been for Bridges colossal mistake and subsequent search for redemption, no-one would have done it, and he would never have survived, merely another casualty of another one of Gilliams nightmarish cityscapes. Mercedes Ruehl is perfect as Bridges suffering girlfriend.She thinks of herself as hard-bitten a survivor, and yet she continues to stay with Bridges, trying to prove to herself that she has the strength to change him, to redeem him. She wants to be his saviour, and yet he comes in the shape of a homeless madman, prone to dancing naked in Central Park and seeing floating fairies whilst defecating.The Fisher King is a movie about hope, despair and redemption, and all of the human conditions that fit in between.It contains one of the most inspired,beautiful scenes in recent memory,as Grand Central station transforms from a dingy,noisy concrete hole into a luscious, gorgeous ballroom, simply because of Lydia, Parrys love, the one thing that keeps him grounded in any semblance of reality.The chinese restaurant double- date in which Parry connects with her for the first time is both funny and touching, and makes what comes after even more tragic.

It is at times tragic,brutal even but it's heart cannot be doubted,and it remains a wonderful success.
103 out of 113 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Movie with depth
Schlockmeister14 June 2001
The movie's plot has been discussed enough, no need to rehash it here. I just wanted to add a few observations. In my opinion this is one of Robin Williams' best performances. I know that at the time he was heavily involved in Comic Releif and this story about mentally ill homeless men and acceptance of all types of people really fits the PC Comic Releif mentality, but he really did a great job here, portraying Parry, a man lost in fantasies of knights and ladies.

Jeff Bridges is very Howard Stern-like as Jack Lucas, the insulated, rude talk show host. In 1991 Stern was still a New York thing, but being that his "fame" has since spread, we see who the character was based on with a little more clarity now.

Michael Jeter as the homeless, depressed former cabaret singer was a delight in every scene he was featured in. His "singing telegram" scene to Lydia in her office was a classic.

Mercedes Ruehl also stood out as sort of living outside this crazy world that Jack Lucas finds himself thrust into. Her home is a haven and scenes shot there are usually scenes of a return to normalcy in the story, a grounding.

David Hyde Pierce has pretty much found his niche as the asexual, slightly fey character. This was basically a toned-down Niles Crane in a hat here.

Amazing movie. Like other Terry Gilliam movies, they unwind like dreams and have the look of otherworldliness. I am sorry that the homeless people arent giddy and uplifting enough for some viewers, but in reality it is a pretty stark existance.

Recommended highly.
74 out of 84 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The perfect Robin Williams movie (and much more)
McGonigle3 March 2004
This movie is really exceptional in a lot of ways. It's got one of those plots, full of ironic reversals and personal struggle, that's been turned into melodramatic trash in every creative medium ever invented. With Robin Williams as the magic crazy guy and Jeff Bridges in an 80s ponytail, the ways the basic concept could have gone awry (in other hands) are truly frightening to contemplate. But with Terry Gilliam at the helm, The Fisher King speaks to your emotions more directly and powerfully than 90% of the movies out there without degenerating into sappiness.

Perhaps the most brilliant acheivement of this movie is the way it takes Robin Williams' crazy-improvisational persona and makes it an integral part of the story. Instead of being a tacked-on adjunct to the "real" movie, Williams' stream-of-consciousness patter is essential to the work as a whole.

At the same time, Gilliam is making an almost-mainstream movie for the first time in his career, while explicitly referencing his past (the Holy Grail). It all comes together into a movie you will never forget.
56 out of 65 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Still amazing on a 4 inch screen
radseresht7 May 2006
When i first rented this movie out, it was like an enchantment, even on a 4 inch screen. It was a tape but still, i felt the magic in the movie its self. But the Fisher King is more than a movie, it is a story of redemption, madness, guilt, sanity, poverty and love. In the movie, all these things come together. Jeff Bridges was always a well respected Hollywood actor. In the Fisher King, he plays a role a lot more different than the star man. He plays a radio talk show host Jack Lucas, a wild, arrogant radio DJ who's advice causes a man to assassinate seven people in a restaurant. Jack Lucas did this unintentionally, but as a result to that, he is now down and out in poverty. When almost killed by thugs, a insane homeless man (Robin Williams), saves Jack, and in the end turns out to be the husband of one of the restaurant victims. Parry (Robin Williams) has lost his sanity because of that. Jack feels so muck guilt that he wishes to help Parry meet with Lydia Sinclair ( the girl that Parry likes, played by Amanda Plummer), and help him find the one thing Parry treasures, the Holy Grail. The performances are incredible. Particualary Mercedes Rhuel, Robin Williams, Amanda Plummer, andJeff Bridges, they stole the show. This should be in the library of the top five fantasy dramas in Hollywood.
36 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Robin Williams should have won an Oscar for this movie
lee_eisenberg20 June 2005
"The Fisher King" is one of those movies that shows how, although we can't get over certain incidents, they may end up leading to our redemption. Jeff Bridges plays Jack Lucas, a New York radio talk show host. One day, he makes a mean remark to one of his listeners, and the listener murders some people. When it gets reported that the man had done this after a remark by Lucas, Jack knows that his career is over, but also realizes how he has been affecting people.

Some years later, Jack is wondering the streets and meets Parry (Robin Williams), a homeless man whose mind is gone. Parry believes Jack to be a sort of hero and Jack can't get him to think otherwise. So, the two accompany each other from then on.

Probably the movie's most interesting aspect was how director Terry Gilliam shows what is happening in Parry's imagination, contrasting it with reality. The Red Knight and Holy Grail make for some unusual scenes. This may be Robin Williams' best performance ever.
61 out of 80 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Wow! Sooooooooo overlooked. A mini-masterpiece
mtnhi6 May 2005
I've watched Robin Williams/Jeff Bridges in this "fairytale" more times than I count. Finally bought it. You have to watch it at least twice , in my opinion,because the first time all I could do was try to let it "settle in".

I love movies that hit me broadsided and then blind me! I keep trying to watch it with my daughter, who only likes love stories, but if I can keep her still long enough she'll find out that this IS a love story, of the most incredible kind. A love story for all mankind.

I hate to gush, but if it's ever called for, it's called for here.

The first time I saw it, I was soooooooo impressed with Mercedes Rhuel's performance and actually said to my friend in the theatre, "That woman's gonna get nominated for the Oscar for this performance", which of course she won for her performance. So, I'm not so unsophisticated after all.
45 out of 60 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a modern romance
symbolt7 February 2006
This is one of the best movies I've ever seen. I kept returning to it over they years and I always found it a great and enriching experience to watch. I especially like the shifting incarnations of the legendary Fisher King in this film (the wounded hero, kind of the wasteland, keeper of the holy grail. The archetype of the knight and of the wounded warrior can be seen as one of the prominent archetypes of masculinity we have. By this view, this movie can be seen as a research into masculinity as such. The performances by Bridges, Williams and Ruehl are exquisite. The eighties' New York is a great setting for this ethereal, symbolic quest, and the surreal theatricalness of some of the scenes (a la "Brazil") only adds to the overall artistic congruence of the film. The visuals are great. The movie works on many levels, so apart from this very abstract layer, we get a funny and intelligent comedy about modern misfits - with a great love story, or two. Also, I especially recommend this movie to anyone who loves New York City.
33 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Heartbreakingly hysterical dramedy; one of my all-time faves
george.schmidt13 March 2003
THE FISHER KING (1991) **** Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer, Michael Jeter, Tom Waits. Brilliant tragic-farce about a shock jock radio personality (Bridges in top form and criminally overlooked for an Oscar nod!) who goes over the brink into madness when he inadvertently causes a tragedy that he ends up reliving when he comes upon a homeless man (Williams equally brilliant, Best Actor nominee) that has become that way due to his actions. Repercussions and setbacks aside, intriguing character study despite some broad strokes. Daring direction by Terry Gilliam and Ruehl (Oscar winner, Best Supporting Actress) is dead-solid perfect as Bridges' taken for granted lover. Pathos and pathologies aplenty. Astonishing screenplay by Richard La Gravenese (who has a blink-n-miss cameo in the first asylum sequence; he's in a strait-jacket). Look sharp for Kathy Najimi as a video store patron Bridges insults and David Hyde Pierce as Bridges' agent.
27 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A film of power, substance and poetry
CarolCC5 August 1999
I recently saw this movie again. (actually I felt compelled to buy it at a video sale). I have always loved it and I continue to be moved by it. The story has such a romantic and poetic quality. It examines the nature of redemption born, not out of guilt and obligation, but out of a truly selfless act of love for another person. The film rivals "The Shawshank Redemption" in its vision of the triumph of the human spirit, and the elements of fantasy are absolutely breathtaking, especially the scene in Grand Central Station. Definitely one of Robin Williams' most moving performances.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of my favorite Robin Williams movies.
I_Love_Spielberg7 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't quite know what to expect with this movie when I first saw it. But I have to say, it exceeded my expectations. I love the performances by Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, and Michael Jeter. They were all excellent.

One of my favorite scenes was were Michael Jeter dresses in drag and starts to sing to the girl of Robin Williams's dreams about a video store. I was laughing so hard at it.

I also like the dramatic side of it where we learn that Robin Williams is mentally ill and that he lost his wife a few years ago.

This is the must-see for any Robin Williams fan. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of Gilliam's best.
dead475489 January 2008
Arguably Gilliam's best film, and certainly his best acted. As usual, Bridges is completely natural and absorbed in his role. This is the only time I've seen Robin Williams combine his best humor with his severe talent for dramatic work. He seamlessly switches from being wildly charismatic to being an empathetic, heart broken man just trying to escape his past. The basic structure is one which has been done many times, but never has it been mastered as Gilliam has done. The parallels in the story are remarkable. Parry's name being short for Parsifal, a knight of the Holy Grail. Parry saves Jack just as Parsifal saved the Fisher King. Also, Parry's flight from the Red Knight is reflected from Parsifal's battle with the Red Knight. Another parallel is seen when Parry's haunted past is brought back to him after kissing Lydia, just as Parsifal is reawakened after kissing Kundry. Gilliam creates all of this beautifully, yet keeps it very subtle and light. The film itself combines outrageous humor, heartwrenching drama and even some thrilling chase scenes. The hallucinations and flashbacks also have a very haunting ambiance to them. The film really is a tour de force on all fronts. As always, Gilliam creates a very haunting yet comfortable ambiance through some of the best cinematography I've ever seen.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It could be a treasure...
Polaris_DiB23 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Gilliam tries something dramatic...

...and succeeds?! This is about as quiet as Gilliam's hyperactive, wonky skewed-camera imagery is gonna get, but he really did well with it. Containing a lot of the fantasy conceits he loves and obviously holds dear, it's still a much more, shall we say, realistic look at loneliness and escape.

After a shock-radio host accidentally inspires someone to take a sawed-off shotgun into a yuppie coffee shop, he quits his job and falls into a sweaty and alcoholic depression made worse by his own sense of self-involvement turned self-loathing. After a night of drunken rambling, he is saved from a couple of sadistic rich kids by a kind-hearted Robin Hood-style bum who takes the DJ under his wing. Enter self-exploration and learning something about kindness and redemption.

The star of this movie is Jeff Bridges, and he does nothing short of spectacularly. This is the third movie I've seen him in, and each time he has played a unique and engaging character very well, so I'm going to chalk him down as one of my new favorite actors. Robin Williams is not so much Robin Williams as he usually is in different roles, though he still mostly is in this one. By that I mean Robin Williams tends to be himself in most roles but in this one there were moments when he was out of typical Robin Williams character and into the character on the screen. It was good to see, very good to see.

It's also a very interesting juxtaposition of relationships, one from the viewpoint of a helpless romantic who dreams of knights and castles trying to sweep a lonely and ungraceful girl off her feet, and the other from a couple of bitter New York cynics who both desperately involve themselves in a relationship they don't like despite the fact that they really love each other. It's a weird mix, but it works very appealingly.

8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Fisher King – Another masterpiece from Gilliam
lobzhanidze18 December 2007
New York is not just a city. New York is a model, model for the "world full of busy people," where the person is too grounded and too occupied to stop, look up into the sky and simply say "look it's beautiful".

Jeff Bridges plays a guy, anchor of the popular radio show and his popularity allows him to "make love with his ego." No one can stop him from self obsession, even the beggar knocking on his Porsche car window. Almost nothing can wake Jack Lucas(character played by Jeff Bridges), except for his own announcements in radio, which gives birth to tragedy.His ego can't stand this and turns him into heavy drinker. Once being drunk to death he goes wandering in the streets, thinking about his lost fame, here he encounters character named Parry, played by Robbin Williams. Possibly Gilliam influenced by his early work for Monty Piton(Monty Piton and Holy Grail) turns Parry to a character who seeks Holy Grail, however in this case Grail is just a symbol, symbol which will allow Parry to return to sanity and forget the tragedy which happened to his wife, the tragedy which links to Jack… However before the search for Grail begins the movie prepares us to this point. In the legend of Holy Grail the person should have been prepared to find it finally, he should have faced serious challenges and then become ready for the quest, so does the movie. Parry wants to get possession of the Grail during the whole movie, he knows where it is, however somehow he can't reach it and thinks Jack is the one chosen for this mission, however Jack does not even think finding it. However finally we get to this point and as mentioned above the grail is found and links the various topics of the movie together.

The atmosphere in the movie is typical to Gilliam's style, which reminds his early "Brazil" and later work "Fear and loath in Las Vegas". The scenes are overloaded with various subjects, which is normal for Gilliam, the camera moves in experimental way and so on. The movie features "Snap's" "I've got the power" song and appears every time Jack Lukas enters his luxurious house, car or office. However the question in the movie is what real power is, Jack having fun in his pent house, Parry dancing naked in the central park of New York, finding true love (by the end of the movie everything comes to this point), or maybe simply the human relations? The movie raises all of these possibilities and it is up to the viewer to find sense in the messed tale like world of Terry Gilliam.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
short description and the inspirational story
CuneytPala16 October 2007
one of the best stories about the life in urban jungle and how everything is related. Jeff bridges and robin Williams are perfect. a must must see for anyone who enjoys a good story well told. last but not least the director terry Gilliam adds his most loved extra grim flavor.

The Fisher King (by: Richard LaGravenese)

It begins with the king as a boy, having to spend the night alone in the forest to prove his courage so he can become king.

Now while he is spending the night alone he's visited by a sacred vision. Out of the fire appears the holy grail, symbol of God's divine grace. And a voice said to the boy,

"You shall be keeper of the grail so that it may heal the hearts of men."

But the boy was blinded by greater visions of a life filled with power and glory and beauty.

And in this state of radical amazement he felt for a brief moment not like a boy, but invincible, like God, ... so he reached into the fire to take the grail, ... and the grail vanished, ... leaving him with his hand in the fire to be terribly wounded.

Now as this boy grew older, his wound grew deeper.

Until one day, life for him lost its reason. ... He had no faith in any man, not even himself. ... He couldn't love or feel loved. ... He was sick with experience. He began to die.

One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn't see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. And he asked the king,

"What ails you friend?"

The king replied,

"I'm thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat".

So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king.

As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the holy grail, that which he sought all of his life. And he turned to the fool and said with amazement,

"How can you find that which my brightest and bravest could not?"

And the fool replied,

"I don't know. I only knew that you were thirsty."
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A true modern classic...
AlsExGal3 April 2010
...and probably the best performance Robin Williams ever gave as a dramatic actor, although the competition is stiff. I think I liked him here the best because he is given an opportunity to play his role both serious and silly, and it really showcases his range.

The plot has been continuously rehashed, so I won't go into too many details again. I do wonder why this film seems to be so forgotten when it is such a modern classic. In one way it is stuck in the past, in the sense that New York City in 1991 was and had been for twenty or so years regarded as a place with ungovernable grime and crime. In the time that has passed it has really undergone a renaissance. In another way the film is so topical in how it handles the subject of high-priced talking heads and how highly they regard themselves, never giving a thought to the fact that words have consequences. Highly recommended.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I'm just going to say it, I love this movie!
jdkraus31 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen 1400+ movies. There is always what I call a rare breed in which I am so sucked into a film that I praise it is sheer excellence and regarded as a favorite. Terry Gilliam's "The Fisher King" is such a movie.

The story's central focus is on Jack, a radio talk-show host (Jeff Bridges) who says insensitive remarks to a caller, who in turn shoots up a diner. 8 people are killed, and so is Jack's career. Three years later, he lives in drunkenness and self-loathing with his long-suffering girlfriend Anne (Mercedes Ruehl). Chance so happens one night that he is rescued from a couple of thugs by a group of homeless men, led by an individual named Parry (Robin Williams). It just so happens that Parry is one of the surviving victims from the diner massacre. As a means of redemption, Jack seeks to aid Parry in wooing a quirky girl, Lydia (Amanda Plummer) whom he has grown smitten with.

The plot itself sounds pretty deep and it would make great for a novel. In fact, most of the best movies are based off books (ex: The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption). Surprisingly though, this film is entirely written for the screen-a fresh, original idea. The writer for this movie knew well how to create a story and pack humor, adventure, fantasy, and even tragedy all in one. One of the best scenes in the movie takes place at a train station where Parry follows Lydia through a crowd. The scene starts as a mundane sequence of people walking to and fro, but it slowly morphs into a ballroom dance floor as everyone begins dancing while a lovestruck Parry pursues a clueless Lydia. It is amusing to watch and shows the imagination of Parry coming to life.

The characters are not only well-written and well-developed, but the actors make them unique and real. Williams is known mostly for comedy and family films, but he also has an edge for the dramatic roles, as seen in Insomnia and Good Will Hunting. As Parry, he combines both elements of humor and drama to make an unforgettable performance as a good man who has lost his sanity, but is not too far gone from hope. He is funny, heart-warming, and even tragic. Too bad he was up against Tony Hopkins for Silence of the Lambs, for he probably would have won the coveted statue. Jeff Bridges physically and mentally transforms himself from the usual tough, laid back personas he often plays to a man who is trapped in regret and who wants to do something right in his life for his change. This is truly one of his best works. Mercedes Ruehl, who won an Oscar for her performance, is the real screen stealer. She is funny, but also a strong, passionate character that stands by her man and is willing to do just about anything to get him back on his feet. Amanda Plummer is limited in screen time, but she delivers excellent comic timing as the cute, yet dim-witted Lydia. She rivals Jacque Closseau when it comes to sight gags.

Besides the writing and performances, director Terry Gilliam crafts a film without it being too much like his other works. HIs emphasis on vector shapes (like Jack's radio room and apartment), tilted camera angles, and sense of the fantastic is present; however, it is not too much in excess. It is different than 12 Monkeys and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in terms of storytelling style and visual imagery, which I think is a good thing. His work can get very bizarre. This may have been because he did not write the script (unlike Baron Munchausen and 12 Monkeys). Even so, he does a fine job and proves to be a very unique director.

The other thing worth noting is that "The Fisher King" explores an aspect that seems to be neglected in movies, and that is the issue of homelessness. While most people think homeless people as lazy bums, this movie shows that there is a reason behind it. Each person has a story of their own and that is what can lead him or her into such an unsavory situation. We're all people after all. But it is a good and hopeful thought for someone to pitch in and help.

To sum up, "The Fisher King" is a movie that I was hooked to from start to finish. And this is because of the overall excellence that everyone put in part to film. Great characters, great writing, great storytelling, great direction. There is nothing more I can ask for in a movie.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
As good as it gets
Mr_Mirage24 February 2013
While most of Gilliam's work is known for their over-the-top wild madness, which is a good thing, this is his most restrained, most subdued and possibly the single finest film of his career. Throughout there is a sense that life is going on while he just happened to be nearby with a camera, somehow even magically catching the tormented vision of a Red Knight chasing a hapless soul through Central Park.

The performances are stunning. Possibly the greatest moment in Williams' career, a chance to "be crazy" but in the sense of someone barely capable of functioning. Ruehl controls her reality, which is small and confined, but it is hers, every inch of it. Plummer, always fascinating, here is heart breaking. Jeter's role is small but perfect in every possible way. Najimy is on screen for about a heartbeat, but is totally memorable.

Then, of course, there is: Jeff Bridges as Jack Lucas. Bridges is obvious now, The Dude, Rooster Cogburn, his Crazy Heart beating loud. It is here, though, that the man that has done so much, and from a short line of great actors (father Lloyd and brother Beau as also great) that has given so much, he really deserved the attention that he is only now getting.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Emotional and sensitive tale about two deranged characters driven into deep craziness by an unexpected distress
ma-cortes8 October 2011
This is a Modern Day Tale dealing with The Search For Love, Sanity, Craziness and The Holy Grail . A former self-absorbed radio personality ,the popular DJ Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges), suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, when a nutty man carries out a slaughter that takes place in a popular New York bar after hearing the radioman speak against Yuppies. He then finds redemption of the unexpected tragedy in helping a deranged homeless named Perry (Robin Williams) , a former professor who turned unhinged and who was an unwitting victim of that mistake and also in desperate need of rescue himself . The ex-DJ strikes up a friendship with the vagabond and both of whom join forces to steal the Holy Grail from the private Library of a New York Socialite . While it is not quoted in the story , Parry's name is short for Parsifal, the "pure fool" and legendary knight of the Holy Grail. Perry brings redemption to Jack Lucas just as Parsifal brings redemption to the Fisher King Amfortas .

This is an imaginative , glamorous , chaotic fantasy based on the relations among four characters , though a little bit tedium too and paced in fits and starts . This touching and stirring film contains nice performances from Jeff Bridges as a radio man dejected by remorse and Robin Williams as a homeless become crazy after witnessing his wife's violent death in the bar shooting . Absorbing and overlong tale , both funny and tender, and full of good feeling , emotion , intrigue and human relations . The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges and Mercedes Ruehl; and three Oscar nominees: Tom Waits, Dan Futterman and Richard LaGravenese. It's a good picture but relies heavily on the lovely romance between Robin Williams and Amanda Plummer , and the relationship between Jeff Bridges and Mercedes Ruehl ; lacking adventures and action . Nice secondary cast cast as Michael Jeter and David Hyde Pierce and brief appearance of Kathy Najimy , look fast for John de Lancie and Richard LaGrevanese , film's screenwriter, as strait jacket yuppie . Special mention to Mercedes Ruehl who won best supporting actress . Nice scenarios from N.Y. as the "castle" , it is the facade of the Squadron Armory, now part of the Hunter College Campus Schools building, located at 94th and Madison Avenue. This medium-budgeted , under-appreciated film was a flop in the premiere and at the box office , being panned by the critics ; however , today is very well considered . Colorful and glimmer cinematography by Roger Pratt, and evocative musical score by George Fenton . This is the first film directed by Terry Gilliam to not feature any other members of Monty Python. The motion picture is imaginatively directed by Terry Gilliam , an expert on wonderful , surreal atmospheres ( Time bandits , Brazil , Baron Munchausen, Doctor Parnasus). The film might be described as an extraordinary human drama full of imagination and color . Rating : Good , better than average . Worthwhile watching .
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"You find some pretty wonderful things in the trash"
Steffi_P14 December 2007
This was Terry Gilliam's first film produced back home in his native USA, perhaps a deliberate move to help further establish himself as a serious film director in his own right, and get away from his image as an interesting offshoot of Monty Python. Gilliam had certainly created his own distinct style with the four films he made in the UK, and they are by no means bad – Brazil is an outright masterpiece – but with their British-made look, quirky humour, not to mention the odd ex-Python among the cast it was understandable that he would want to move on to a different setting and get out of the Python shadow.

So here we have a Gilliam film written by an American (Richard LaGravenese), set in New York and with a Hollywood cast, but in style and content the same Gilliam touch is very much in evidence. Like Brazil this is a complex story and, like all his previous features (with the exception of the inferior Jabberwocky) it deals with the conflict between imagination and the real world. The screenplay thus puts Gilliam on familiar ground, and gives him free reign to create something weird and wonderful – enter homeless vigilantes, a moustachioed cabaret singer and a fire breathing red knight. In spite of all this the bizarreness is just a little more restrained than in previous Gilliam efforts. All for the best perhaps as it allows him to give more weight to story and character.

The plot of The Fisher King is multi-layered and highly original, the best study of guilt and redemption I have seen. While keeping the setting and concerns of present-day America it references Arthurian legend for its story, and any number of classic romance movies for its tone. Gilliam handles this poignant side confidently, as well as introducing that same light, lyrical touch that cropped up in Brazil – one scene, in which hundreds of commuters in a station concourse suddenly break into ballroom dancing, is done so smoothly it could almost have been something out of a Vincente Minelli musical.

What really brings The Fisher King to life though is the top-notch cast. Jeff Bridges plays a character clearly based on shock-jock Howard Stern, and brings him through a radical and very moving development. Mercedes Ruehl plays his girlfriend, creating a character who is at once over-the-top and utterly believable, and she deservedly one an Oscar for the part. And then there is the unique Robin Williams as Parry, in one of the best performances of his career, no doubt supplying much of his own dialogue.

The Fisher King is Gilliam's second masterpiece. It may lack the constant creativeness of his earlier works, but there is now a greater emotional depth on display. It's a great balance of tragedy and comedy, with a life-affirming resolution that is a counterpoint to the despair of Brazil.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
when vanity meets despair
valia_dimi26 June 2006
For anyone who hasn't known the work of Terry Gilliam, Fisher King is a great starting point. This film contains all the splendid characteristics - drama, comedy, action, a lot of fiction and fantasy- that we usually see on Gilliam's films. and also it has the credit of Robin Williams who gives a true performance on stage. we get to see how the life of a vain and shallow man at his late 30s is turned upside down because of his great idea of himself. we get to watch how he is drown to depression and back to his feet by wacko who believes that the holy grail really exists and is an ornament on 6th Avenue. but what happens when the vanity understands that it itself has caused despair? what could become a movie only to watch with tissues and only admired by women, is a fantastic thriller because of the director. and as a song i prefer these days says, "love is the answer to most of the questions in my heart" don't miss it...
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
'There are three things in life you need -- respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis, and a Navy blazer.' (Williams as Parry)
TxMike23 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I had seen 'The Fisher King' perhaps 10 or 11 years ago, and eagerly watched it again on DVD borrowed from my public library system. It is amazing how much we forget. It was almost like a new movie. It is a mainly under appreciated story of two men whose lives intermingle for the salvation of each. Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges have never been better. It is a tragic story, a drama, but with many funny moments.

August 2014 edit: I just watched it again, after Robin Williams' recent death by suicide.

SPOILERS follow, for my own recollection, please read no further.

Jack Lucas (Bridges) is a self-centered radio personality with an early morning talk show, where he gives trivial and flippant advice to the callers. At the end of this particular day his sign-off message was 'Thank God I'm me!' Soon he learns that his last caller, Edwin, took his advice seriously and killed 7 plus himself. His bubble burst, we see Jack 3 years later, an angry, paranoid boozer with a girlfriend who loves him. He works, badly, in her video store. Then, weights on his feet, ready to end it all in the river, punks show up to torment him, but Parry (Williams) and his bum friends show up to torment and chase off the punks.

'Parry's" real name is Harry Sagan, a former professor who, among other things, had written an unpublished manuscript 'The Fisher King,' right before he went off the deep end, 3 years earlier, when his wife was one of the 7 killed by 'Edwin.' In his delusional state he is hunting for 'the holy grail', which he believes is in a castle-like home in Manhattan. He says he sees 'little fat people' who speak to him, and an evil knight, aflame, on a horse (which we see too). Ultimately the friendship that develops between Jack and 'Parry' brings both of them back to life. Jack because he feels responsible for the death of 'Parry's' wife.

A cute side story is 'Parry's' affection from afar of a homely, awkward lady named Lydia. Jack and his girlfriend conspire to help bring the two of them together. That, plus Jack's scaling the castle-home to bring back a silver cup, 'Parry's' grail, bring 'Parry' back from a catatonic state after a beating by punks. Now Harry Sagan again, he has a new girlfriend, while Jack realizes what life is about, professes love for his girlfriend. The movie ends with Jack and Harry lying naked, at night, in Central Park, watching the stars and the clouds.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Painfully close to greatness
rrowell19 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Part of the problem with this movie is that it doesn't trust the audience to imagine anything. Instead the director wants to show us.. For example the red knight that symbolizes repressed memories. To me the visual metaphor seemed very hokey. I can conjure far more terrifying visions from my own nightmares. Again with the murder scene. Anyone with a significant other can appreciate the trauma seeing him/her murdered would do. I didn't need the rather cheesy special effects to pound that home. Both flawed attempts at showing us what the characters were/had seen only detracted from the experience for me.

The second nail in the coffin was my failure to connect with the characters. It was strange to watch a movie from the era where Williams over-acted as was so popular in the 90s (witness the rise of Jim Carey). In the end despite an energetic performance by Robin, it is hard to "buy" his character. That coupled with the borderline believability of several other characters goes a long ways towards sinking what is essentially a character drama.

The real shame here is that the move had great potential and an above average plot. It just didn't feel well executed. 6/10, worth renting if you have made it through the top 250 already.
13 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed