The Fisher King

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The Fisher King (1991)

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Written by Richard LaGravenese

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Michael Jeter, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer

Jack (Bridges) made a fatal mistake when he dismissed a despondent caller on his radio show. Now Jack has fallen apart in the aftermath of a shooting by the caller that left innocent people dead. When he begins to help Parry (Williams), the husband of one of the shooting victims, Jack begins to see a path to redemption. Jack’s efforts soon take him and Parry on a journey that could refine both of their lives.

The Fisher King 7This movie was an instant critical success when it was released in 1991. The film was based on the screenplay by Richard LaGravenese (The Bridges of Madison County) and directed by Terry Gilliam (Brazil). It was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Set Decoration, and Best Score. The is led by Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski) and Robin Williams (The World According to Garp). The film also features Michael Jeter (Open Range), Mercedes Ruehl (Big), and Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction).

The Fisher King 5If there was ever any question about Robin Williams ability to handle a serious role, this film was one of many to help clear that up. This film earned Williams an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. His performance is powerful and emotional, calling on his comedic skills and a sense of profound emotion. Opposite Williams, Jeff Bridges does an excellent job as well. He puts together a driven performance that works perfectly alongside Williams’ high energy acting. Mercedes Ruehl and Amanda Plummer are both great in this one as well. This movie also helped Ruehl win her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Finally, Michael Jeter gives a great performance in one of the smaller supporting roles. Overall, this is a powerful movie with acting that holds up the constant emotional changes of the story.

The Fisher King 8The story written for this movie is an interesting one. The emotional backdrop is gritty and touches on the subject of grief in a unique way. The main storyline is nicely developed, allowing the characters own struggles take the lead. I think the strength of the story is the decision to avoid long moments of dialogue. Instead of talking about the pain and anguish of the characters, those moments are displayed visually. This includes a unique visual depiction of the hallucinations that Parry has. The story does seem to have some pacing issues throughout the middle. Despite the interesting characters, there are points that feel like the movie is losing direction. This doesn’t last long though, and it’s nothing that hurts the film too much. Overall, this is a nicely written story that does almost everything right.

The Fisher King 9The visuals for this movie are an interesting blend of unique camera angles and fantastical imagery. Throughout the movie, the camera is used to exaggerate the emotional highs and lows of the characters. This is both interesting, and unfortunately distracting. Overall, this is a well-made movie, but the use of these techniques can make it confusing at times. There is still a lot to like in this one, with a great set of locations used throughout. The score, by George Fenton (Gandhi), is also a wonderful addition to this movie.

The Fisher King 4This is an emotionally driven story that offers a unique look at the cost of grief. If you’re a fan of emotional dramas, this is one for you. There is also a certain comedic element in this one that will appeal to fans of comedies. I would also recommend this to fans of the stars in this one. I give this one 3.7 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 137 Minutes


  1. Just re-watched this a couple days ago and I have to say, it worked better a second time around. Especially since Williams and Bridges are so good together here, it’s actually kind of shocking. Good review.


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