The Fisher King (1991)
The Knights of New York
Do you speak English... Let the knight go dip shit - Parry
Shock Jock Jack Lucas's (Jeff Bridges) brand of sarcastic advice and humour doesn't go down well with everyone who calls into his radio show, especially women who he frequently belittles. But when one of his callers mentions an exclusive joint Jack rages about the yuppie community, it is an opinion with dire consequences when the caller goes on a rampage killing many including a friend of Jack's. It leads Jack into depression and a reliance on drink having quit the radio lark and turned to working in a video store. One night when drunk and feeling suicidal he is rescued from a beating by a man called Parry (Robin Williams) who is homeless and living in his own madness, believing he is on a quest to find the Holy Grail and wants Jack to help him. Initially reluctant Jack learns that Parry lost it when his wife was killed in the massacre which he feels responsible for and then feels responsible to help him, yet maybe it is Jack will be the one who gets the help.
Terry Gilliam is an acquired taste, you either are fascinated and impressed by his eclectic style which often feels like it goes off on tangents or you are not. This may disappoint some but I am one of those who just don't go wild for Gilliam and find his curious movies with their eclectic style a bit messy for my apparent mainstream preferences. The upshot of this is that often I find I can appreciate a Gilliam movie as a piece of movie making but ending up not enjoying it like many people do.
This is sadly the case of "The Fisher King" a tale of two damaged souls with a connection who could be each other's salvation. When you split "The Fisher King" up into all its little pieces they are all entertaining especially the performances with both Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges delivering emotion, drama and lashings of humour creating these wonderful quirky characters.
Then there is the look and considering this movie is over twenty years old the quality of the image is first fantastic with a sharpness but also full of atmosphere which you don't expect. The framing of street scenes with the rain beating down across a street light is stunning as is the depth of the backdrops as we enter Parry's world. Sometimes the imagery is a little too sharp making it feel too constructed but it still impresses.
And the story itself of these two damaged souls who find themselves drawn together and are in fact each other's salivation is charming and amusing. I could go on because every element of "The Fisher King" from dialogue to the whimsical music moments works. But for me when you put all those pieces together what you have is at times something which feels chaotic and whilst not a chore to watch is not necessarily easy either. In many ways I wish I could love "The Fisher King" and Gilliam's eclectic styling more as I would love for all those pieces to come together and blow me away but they don't.
What this all boils down to is that even though I don't get Gilliam's movies like others do "The Fisher King" is still a good movie. But for me it is one of those movies where all the parts are great but somehow don't end up great when you put them all together.
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