The Fisher King

[Screenshot]I like a lot of Terry Gilliam’s films, and have learned to embrace his madness. The Fisher King surprised me by having a fundamentally more realistic plot, generally free of complete crackheadedness. There are still fantastic elements, but they’re realistically grounded. At times it seemed to move slowly: it’s surprising how little actual plot content there is to this full-length film. But there’s some solid character development, driven mostly by solid acting on Jeff Bridges’ part. Robin Williams is OK, and different enough from his standard role to at least be interesting, but, still, he’s such an iconic character he has trouble breaking out of his role. Bridges has a fair bit more wiggle room, since the role I think of as his most definitive is the Dude from The Big Lebowski, who doesn’t much resemble Jack.

The Fisher King is a sweet and strange story. Very much off the beaten path for Gilliam, I think, but overall successful. It shares his general penchant for black comedy but otherwise moves in a fairly different direction than his frequently fantastic or bleak stories. Granted, it’s got bleakness enough, but it’s not an unreal bleakness, such as the post-apocalyptic 12 Monkeys or Kafkaesque dystopia of Brazil, but rather a pretty decent mirror of the authentic disillusionments of the 80s and pre-boom 90s, when it seemed like fate could drag you down from on top of the world at any time. Seeing a realistic take on the dispiriting times actually does a fair bit to put Gilliam’s otherworldly morbidity into a sensible context.

Oh, also, a mention for the female roles. Mercedes Ruehl was good in a somewhat limited way, but Amanda Plummer was either brilliant or terrible, and I’m not sure which. Very unnerving and awkward, almost painful to watch.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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