The Fisher King (1991):
Dir. by Terry Gilliam, Starring Robin Williams, Amanda Plummer, Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl
The Fisher King is one of Terry Gilliam’s least bizarre adventures but it certainly is a wonderfully bizarre movie by the standards of the average movie. Jeff Bridges, in a role that seems fairly similar to his persona in The Big Lebowski, plays an emotionally devoid radio DJ who hits rock bottom when one of his callers goes on a killing spree. Three years later, he’s an unemployed bum who feeds off a live-in girlfriend (Ruehl in an a role that won her the supporting actress oscar) who runs a video store in Brooklyn. His life turns around when in a drunken stupor he falls into an alleyway where on the verge of getting beaten to death, a crazy homeless man named (Robin Williams) saves his life. The lives of the two become interconnected as Bridges’ character learns that Perry (Williams) was once a respected professor of medieval history whose downfall into the bottom rungs of society he is indirectly responsible for.
Gilliams’ films are usually bizarre visually, but this is one of the few Gilliam films that possesses that wonderful sense of imagination in its storyline (the other one would probably be Brazil). It’s thoroughly engaging and has a good amount of depth below the surface. It was also probably the most challenging role of Williams’ career to date and holds up as one of his best. It does not fit the typical Robin Williams’ mold of inspiring leader (i.e. Patch Adams, Dead Poets’ Society, What Dreams May Come), the funnyman (i.e. Flubber, Good Morning Vietnam) or his desperate attempts to go against type performances in 2002 (Insomnia and One-Hour Photo). His role in Fisher King combines perverted elements of Robin Williams the funnyman, Robin Williams the romantic, and unique elements of Robin Williams’ range that have never been seen before or since.