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Sep 2, 2010

30 dAyS oF cRAzY: The Fisher King

Movie News First's Olive comes in second in this crazy journey we're. She brings to us a look at probably Terry Gilliam's most emotional and heartfelt film, which (if not introduced) cemented Robin Williams' status as not just a zany comic but a capital "A" actor. Stay tuned throughout September for nuttiness and zaniness of all varieties - click here for the full lineup, and click here for prior entries (which won't do you much good today, what with this being the first - madness!).

My pick is the comedy-drama, The Fisher King, starring Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams.

The film centres around a popular DJ, Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) who advises a crazed fan to wipe out a bunch of people at a club. Lucas of course doesn’t think for a second that he will actually do it. However when the madman does carry out the massacre, Lucas is weighed down by remorse.

Skip to several months later, when Lucas is saved from a gang of thugs by ex-professor Parry (Robin Williams). It transpires that their fates are intertwined, as Parry became a tramp following his wife’s death, at the hands of Lucas’ insane fan. In order to try and make amends and redeem himself, Lucas decides to help Parry search for a nonexistent Holy Grail and to win the heart of Lydia (Amanda Plummer).

The premise sounds a bit wacky, it is a Terry Gilliam film after all. However, to me this is probably Gilliam’s best to date.

For one, there is a stellar cast. Jeff Bridges, who finally received the recognition he deserves at last year’s Academy Awards, gives a spell-binding performance. He is complimented by Robin Williams, Amanda Plummer and Mercedes Ruehl, who won an Oscar for best-supporting actress.

Now, I’m not a fan of the majority of Williams’ movies, i.e. Mrs. Doubtfire and Jack. However, he does have a couple of good ones, and The Fisher King is one of them.

His character is a colourful and undoubtedly crazy one. He tends to dance naked in Central Park, talks to invisible people and believes a mounted knight is pursuing him.

The film is also notable for Gilliam’s fantastic visions, including a scene which takes place in Grand Central Station. The noisy station transforms into a splendid ballroom, as Williams dances with Plummer. Indeed, Plummer is perfect for Williams and their scenes together are both zany and touching.

Every character undergoes a transformation throughout the film and they learn from each other. We see that despite Parry’s delusions, there is still hope for him and even more importantly for Lucas, who is granted an all important second chance to redeem himself by saving his new friend.

At times, the film is funny; at times it is tragic. (And also a little crazy). But ultimately, The Fisher King is a touching tale of redemption.

Tomorrow: Simon (Screen Insight) opens up a Full Metal Jacket.

3 people have chosen wisely: on "30 dAyS oF cRAzY: The Fisher King"

The Mad Hatter said...

Nicely done sir; this post reminds me that it has been far too long since I last saw this film!

I mjst watch it again soon to see if your "Best Gilliam Film" declaration holds up...since for me, 12 MONKEYS or BRAZIL would likely be wearing that particular championship belt.

Fletch said...

I do feel like, despite its popularity at the time, The Fisher King has gotten somewhat left behind amongst Gilliam's flicks, perhaps because it's so entrenched in the modern day and is probably amongst the least "quirky" (Gilliamish?) of his movies. However, with all those great performances and just the touches of the absurd here and there, it works so well. Yet another not-loved-enough performance by Bridges...

Peter Eramo said...

You are right -- a very underrated work and Bridges, as always, gives an amazing performance. Perhaps he was overshadowed by the zaniness of Williams, I am not sure. But the 4 leads are all stellar. My favorite Gilliam film. Good write-up...