Generally I try and pick feature images that do not give the post away. I decided not to do that with this movie. I’m writing about my favorite Robin Williams’ performance. In the “Aladdin” post, I promised I would, and here it is.
“The Fisher King” had a strong impact on me. This was not the first movie that I saw that dealt with mental illness and loss, but for some reason, it is the one that I remember being affected by deeply.
Robin was not the only amazing performance in this movie. The entire cast was great and brought this material to life. Jeff Bridges plays Jack Lucas. He’s a polarizing New York local radio talk show host. He takes a call from a man that is sick in the head. Jack could not know this, but Jack ends up giving some advice to the man and he decides to take a shotgun to a diner and murder some innocent people and kill himself. Getting news of this, Jack hangs up his microphone and turns to the bottle.
He lives with his girlfriend, Anne Napolitano, played by Mercedes Ruehl in an Oscar winning performance. She is one of the most loyal, noble, and funny characters written in a movie. The depth that Ruehl gives her will not go unnoticed. This role could’ve been written off as another “quirky girlfriend” to the leading man, but the emotion and humanity that she delivers is very honest and powerful. We see her plight, feel her pain, and laugh at her delivery. She takes no prisoners and is the perfect foil for Jack when he starts to feel “too” sorry for himself. One of the awards I actually agreed with–I rarely do.
Jack ends up meeting Parry (Williams) and I’ll spare you the “meet cute” and the circumstances of their relationship, but know that Parry has become a homeless man that does not see the world through realistic eyes…so to speak.
Director Terry Gilliam created a movie that did everything. There are moments of pure joy, laughter, and tragedy. I found myself laughing, and then two scenes later I was shouting, “NO!” at the screen.
The brilliance within the picture is that we pity both of the protagonists. Jack is obviously dealing with his demons, and Parry is anything but right in the head (for good reason and I will not spill it).
Parry is another lovable loser that makes us feel bad for laughing at him at times, given his mental health. Jack’s transformation by the films end is one of the realist that I’ve seen from a character that deals with a “learning arc.”
Both men need each other. I think that Jack knows that fact from their first meeting, but there is a part of him that wants to resist what needs to be done, until he no longer has a choice. Parry needs Jack to help him lead his way back from the dark hole that has become his life now. It’s very powerful stuff, for a comedy.
I find that many of the great Robin films are difficult to classify. He brings a level of comedy to most of his roles, even in films that are clearly tragedies. The “Fisher King” is close to that tone.
I laughed, but as I reflect, I probably shouldn’t have laughed as hard as I did. I hope that last note I made does not persuade you to miss this film. That would definitely be a tragedy.