The Fisher King (1991)
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|Movie Review by Jesse |
July 12th, 2007
A Visionary Work of Art
Just from watching most of the scenes in this film (ex. the burning red knight) you can tell that this is a Terry Gilliam film. Gilliam's style is quite evident in all of his films and this one is no exception. The funny thing is, Gilliam didn't write the screenplay or story for this film, Richard LaGravenese did. LaGravenese used to be a stand-up comedian and shares the same sense of humour and style as Gilliam, so fortunately it worked out for both of them. They make a terrific pair combining one's screenplay and the other's style to make this wonderfully vivid and original movie.
Just looking at the movie and its wonderful art direction and costume design is enough to make me love this film, but it doesn't stop there. The performances are top-notch especially from Robin Williams and Mercedes Ruehl. Jeff Bridges gives one of the best performances of his career, too.
Gilliam proves his directorial capabilities with this film not only bringing the style of the story to the screen but directing his actors in amazing performances. It's probably very hard to control Robin Williams on screen and usually the director that works with him in a comedy has a rough time since Williams seems to direct himself, but here, Gilliam (being a man of strange comedy himself [see Monty Python]) works quite well with the cast. If it wasn't for the other tremendous directing that occurred that year, Gilliam would have, without a doubt, been nominated for the Oscar.
In my opinion, Gilliam works better on films like these (director-wise) than with films like Brazil. There's no doubt about it that Gilliam has a fresh and unique imagination, which can be confused with corrupt and disturbing (see Tideland), but when given another person's screenplay he can do wonders with imagery and other forms of visual artistry.
With The Fisher King, Gilliam and LaGravenese's vision is put on the screen quite visually especially through production designer Mel Bourne's work. He transforms the low parts of New York into a beautiful place and through a homeless person's point of view, this is their kingdom.
Robin Williams is absolutely perfect in this role. He plays Parry, a homeless man who believes he is a knight in search of the Holy Grail. When he meets Jack Lucas (Bridges), he is told by his miniature imaginary friends that Jack is "the one", the one to retrieve the Grail from a rich man's home on Fifth Avenue. Lucas, a man already in shambles, befriends the bum and soon learns that when he was a talk DJ his crooked advice to one listener caused him to go on a shooting spree that coincidentally killed Parry's wife. Jack now feels indebted to Parry and will do anything to help him restore his life. With the help of Jack's girlfriend, Anne (Ruehl, in an Oscar winning role), he guides Parry in the right directions to get the girl of his dreams, Lydia (Plummer), who he has been following for months.
A wonderful screenplay and very interesting characters makes this film a true gem. Mercedes Ruehl was very deserving of her Oscar and gave one of the best supporting performances of the 90s. She epitomizes the trashy, yet sexy woman in this film and in one of the film's best scenes, she cuts right into your heart and makes you sympathize for her.
So with a wonderful combination of brilliant screenwriter, ever-so visionary director and amazing actors, this film launches itself into the memory as one of those movies that you will remember.
I highly recommend this movie to everyone who breathes and has a soul. If you have a chance before you see this, look up the fable of 'The Fisher King' and read it prior to watching the movie. It may provide some insight into the characters and situations. It's funny, it's sad and it's really, really original.
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