The Fisher King Review
After provoking a regular listener to go on a killing spree, Howard Stern-esque 'shock jock' Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges, Hell Or High Water) quits his job and lets his life spiral drastically out of control on the outskirts of Manhattan with the local homeless community. There he meets Parry (Robin Williams, Mrs. Doubtfire), a renowned ex-academic who has lost his wife and suffered a nervous breakdown. Parry and Jack are two lost souls, in The Fisher King, destined to crash into each others lives. Parry is on a mission to collect the Holy Grail from a Manhattan billionaire and Jack is drawn into it when he realises he, in some small part, helped Parry be where he is today. Before the mission starts Jack hooks Parry up with the girl of his dreams, Lydia (Amanda Plummer) and believes it is a step in the right direction for their respective recoveries.
Richard LaGravenese's script is well-written and has two distinct genres central to the story, not dissimilar to its leading men. On the one hand, a zany comedy, the other a staid drama, and both stuck in a reality of people falling in and out of love, impending fallouts and break-ups. The actors work well with the material provided and find ways to play with it and off each other; letting their personalities shine. Most comedies have the straight guy play against the funny guy. Although this is far from a straight comedy, the rule applies here. Bridges is great opposite Williams, letting the comedian unwind naturally with his customary manic energy as Parry goes further and further into his delusions. Williams was clearly in control of his craft and it's used well here.
Being a Terry Gilliam film, the visuals are impressive, absurdist, and striking. Working alongside cinematographer Roger Pratt again (having previously collaborated on Brazil), the New York landscapes are reminiscent of those depicted in Blade Runner and the Red Knight sequences are a particular highlight from a design perspective.
As always with The Criterion Collection a solid job has been done on the newly restored 2K digital transfer approved by Terry Gilliam. I say good job, but it's not perfect. Slight discrepancies are noticeable in low-lit sequences and the night-time scenes involving the Red Knight. As usual with some early 90s films, grain is visible throughout the film.
Packed with extras and finally completed by an audio commentary by director Gilliam which has been on the US releases but graces this UK edition for the first time. Alongside the commentary are new interviews with Gilliam, producer Lynda Obst, screenwriter Richard La Gravenese, and actors Jeff Bridges, Amanda Plummer, and Mercedes Ruehl. Key artists Keith Greco and Vincent Jefferds are interviewed about their creation of the Red Knight. There's an archive interview from 2006 with Robin Williams, and a new video-essay featuring Jeff Bridges' on-set photographs. Also included are deleted scenes (including a new character which didn't make the final cut), with optional Gilliam commentary, costume tests, trailers, plus an essay by critic Bilge Ebiri.
A well-rounded package from a supremely gifted director. Having not seen the movie in the longest time, this was the first Robin Williams film I have watched since his passing. It was great to see such a consummate actor at the height of his craft.