The Fisher King (1991) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
169 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
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.
194 out of 214 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.
122 out of 134 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.
63 out of 68 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.
84 out of 96 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.
67 out of 78 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.
45 out of 55 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.
12 out of 13 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.
58 out of 75 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.
36 out of 48 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.
12 out of 14 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.
30 out of 42 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."
10 out of 12 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.
9 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.
7 out of 9 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.
6 out of 8 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...
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.
Is this film really about the search for "The Holy Grail" ?
FilmCriticLalitRao4 July 2008
Terry Gilliam is not an ordinary filmmaker.His films offer viewers more in terms of psychedelic fun,visual delight,thought provoking ideas and sheer technical brilliance.Terry Gilliam appears to be the modern day distant cousin of maverick,iconoclast filmmakers like Terence Mallick and Alex Cox.All of them are believed to make less films with quality elements."The Fisher King" is one such film which offers an out of the box glimpse into the world of homeless people.It is a world of solidarity,companionship and mutual trust.The Fisher King also discusses the outcome of male-female relationships before the arrival of Internet to inform us as to why some of the relationships would not work ? The film is set in a time when video cassettes were a massive rage.Terry Gilliam has even attacked the media for their alleged misuse of power and authority.In this film Robin William shows us one of the most original ways of correcting one's wrong doing.On the technical front there are unusual camera angles which provide visual pleasure of high adrenaline rush-skyscrapers and areas where homeless people live.This film might soon achieve cult film status because of its material.The message of this film is extremely simple:Anyone can become a homeless person any where,any time under any circumstances.This is because a tragedy can strike anyone,anytime,any place.So be nice and kind to your dear ones in order to love them forever.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A brilliant, real-world "Brazil"
steve-14738 June 2007
The Fisher King is one of Terry Gilliam's least talked about films, which is a shame considering how detailed and captivating a film it is. Although it features an outstanding cast, it's often misunderstood as simply a drama, or a dark comedy, but no genre can really describe the type of movie Gilliam has created here.

Like most Gilliam films, especially Brazil, a large focus is placed on the Goddess figure (in this case, Lydia), the fear of an unspeakable horror and the gradual overcoming of that fear (the Red Knight), and the constant interplay between the fantastic and the mundane. But what makes The Fisher King such an interesting movie is its basis in the real world, in a time that is current. Whereas Brazil, Baron Munchausen, Time Bandits and other Gilliam classics achieve their effect through make-believe worlds, The Fisher King's world is one we are a bit more familiar with. Gilliam's talent is giving us a different sort of glimpse inside something we all take for granted, teetering somewhere between the magical and the mad.

There's no need to rehash the plot - if you haven't seen it, The Fisher King is a brilliant movie that everyone should see, and I hope its reputation only improves as time goes on.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A wild medieval romp with heart
cheryl-7721 January 2006
This movie is so beautifully done. There isn't a single actor in it who doesn't steal a scene, from the largest to the smallest. Michael Jeeter is fabulous as the cross-dressing prize-o-gram singing a red hot reworded song from 'Gypsy'. Mercedes Ruehl is intoxicating with that accent of hers, especially griping about the lasagna and cracking that card in the video store. It's like a play with carefully crafted moments full of symbolism, laughter, and tremendous pain that gives real meaning to this dromedy. Jeff Bridges as DJ is intense. Robin as mystic is childlike and beautiful. The castle, the fiery knight, the villains... it's a medieval folk story set in the mind of a madman that will suck you in!! The backdrop, a modern-day New York filled with people you know MUST exist, whether hidden or right out in the open, is dark and mysterious and colorful, menacing and friendly all at the same time. The ongoing theme of redemption, captured in the sarcastic tagline "Forgi-i-i-ve me-e-e!!!," leads you along as strongly as it leads Bridges' character; you both need to know Parry's story.My favorite scene: the ballroom dancing in Grand Central station... perfection! :)
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Great Story, Exemplary Performances
jhclues12 September 2000
This is the one for which Robin Williams should have received an Oscar; for as Parry, the victim of a senseless tragedy, he is nothing short of brilliant in `The Fisher King,' directed by Terry Gilliam and co-starring Jeff Bridges (who also gives an Oscar-worthy performance here). Gilliam has created the perfect mood and atmosphere to tell the story of successful radio talk-show host Jack Lucas (Bridges), and the homeless and mentally unhinged Parry, whose lives intersect in the wake of an act of unconscionable violence that leaves them both barely clinging to the memory of a reality that no longer exists for either of them. With this movie, Gilliam has deftly crafted a study of the symbiotic existence of mankind and the impact of human nature upon the space we all must share in a world growing smaller day by day. Through Jack's eyes, Gilliam examines the nature of cause and effect, and the results thereof, and Jack's story ultimately becomes Parry's story, and aptly illustrates how the needs of one become the necessity of another, and what it means to finally be able to look beyond ourselves and delve beneath those layers of contemporary frivolity we all manage to build, which in the end are nothing more than pretentious insulations that keep us from the things in life that really matter. Even as Jack's own act of irresponsibility comes back to haunt him and make him question his own values to the very core of his being, Parry receives the brunt of it all from the other end of the spectrum, with consequences even more dire, though for both the result of their shared circumstance is life-altering. Williams gives a masterful performance here that illuminates so well how thin the line between comedy and drama really is. He brings the complex, tragic figure of Parry to the screen flawlessly, with attitude, expression and even body language that is impeccable, and all without a single false moment to be found anywhere throughout (by comparison, even as good as he was in `Good Will Hunting,' for which he received the B.S.A. Oscar, under close scrutiny you'll find a moment or two there that do not ring true). This is quite simply the best work he's ever done, before or since, and he's given the cinematic world an unforgettable character that will undoubtedly make a lasting impression on anyone who sees this film. And, though Williams grabs the lion's share of the spotlight here, he by no means overshadows Jeff Bridges, who has also created a memorable character in Jack. He brings a depth to this role through which he readily displays the many different levels upon which Jack works and lives, from the egotistical, self-centered to the compassionate; it's like watching a struggle for domination going on within him, and waiting to find out which side will ultimately emerge triumphant. It's an exemplary performance, and it's a gross miscarriage of justice that Bridges didn't at least receive a nomination for Best Actor for this one. Proving, however, that justice does, at times, get it's due, Mercedes Ruehl was awarded the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her personable portrayal of Anne, the fulcrum upon which Jack and Parry dramatically balance their tender and tentative psyches. Like Bridges and Williams, she gives a performance here that is totally credible, and she's a delight to watch. One of the strengths of this movie, in fact, is the incredible performances; and it's so gratifying to see such a good story brought to life and made so real through artistic endeavor. In a supporting role, Michael Jeter demands to be singled out for his part as the homeless Cabaret Singer, and also Amanda Plummer, as the hapless and endearing Lydia, both of whom are just additional parts of the aggregate that make this such a great movie. With `The Fisher King,' Gilliam has given us a wonderfully textured morality tale, both entertaining and engaging and rich with metaphor and substance that will endure the test of time, because it is, in the end, a story for the ages. This is definitely one you do not want to let pass you by. I rate this one 10/10.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Commercial perhaps, but with more vitriolic cant than genuine heart...
moonspinner5525 January 2008
Terry Gilliam's typically overreaching style does nothing for this underwhelming material about an unfulfilled radio shock-jock in New York who goes into hiding after suffering career misfortune, learning to live again after meeting an ex-professor who is now some kind of guru among the homeless. Literate perhaps but meandering, self-important comedy-drama, with Jeff Bridges visibly struggling on-screen alongside Robin Williams. Mercedes Ruehl won a Supporting Actress Oscar for showy, one-note role as Bridges' girlfriend. Williams, in free-association mode, attempts to steal the picture with his ranting, but he's mostly a nuisance. Overbaked folk lore and fairy tale symbolism detract from the narrative, and Gilliam is never able to move the audience emotionally with his heavy handedness. *1/2 from ****
26 out of 55 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 .
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It is official. Terry Gilliam's style doesn't suit me at all.
callanvass4 October 2013
(Credit IMDb) A former radio DJ, suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake.

I like weird films. They are always interesting, because I love the creativity. Terry Gilliam's version of bizarre is a little too much for me. My first experience with Gilliam was when I watched Brazil. I couldn't finish that movie, but I still decided to give this one a chance, solely because it stars two of my favorite actors, Jeff Bridges & Robin Williams. Robin William's hyperactive character is very good, but it gets to be a bit overbearing after a while. Jeff Bridges is excellent. I have no complaints about him. I lasted until the hour mark, before I caved in, and couldn't take anymore. Not only is it extremely depressing, but I got a headache from some of the strangest visuals in this movie. It really is a mind- trip, and one I couldn't withstand. Some will love this movie. Terry Gilliam's style certainly has his fans, but I'm not one of them.

11 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A good start to Terry Gilliam's Trilogy of Americana.
MoleMchenry20 February 2010
The Fisher King is the first of Terry Gilliam's Trilogy of Americana (followed up with Twelve Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.) The purpose of the Trilogy of Americana is to follow 3 American's (in America no less) as they experiences madness and insanity. The Americana movies are a little less fantastical than Gilliams other movies, but they still manage to have that element of fantasy that Gilliam is known to have in all his movies. In the Fisher King, Robin Williams is basically an insane homeless man who saves Jeff Bridges from being burned to death. Jeff Bridges then makes sure to go out of his way to help Robin Williams anyway he can. Robin Williams is AMAZING in this movie. Honestly, any movie where a person can play crazy very well will win me over. Gilliam has a knack for always having weird and over the top characters in movies, but his characters are never annoyingly over the top, they're over the top in the most entertaining way. I'm glad Williams was nominated for an Oscar for this role. To go from batpoo crazy to spewing an emotional monologue about The Fisher King isn't easy I'm sure. The Fisher King has a great story and great acting. Gilliam's bizarre camera movements were lacking a bit for this movie but that's fine, this movie wasn't the kind of movie that needed jerky movements and epic angles.
3 out of 4 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