Our six-title celebration of visionary auteur Terry Gilliam draws to a close with his alternately poignant and hilarious 1991 classic The Fisher King, a modern-day tale about the search for love, sanity, redemption — and the Holy Grail. A break from Gilliam’s more visually opulent and stylistically bombastic features, The Fisher King is an emotionally arresting blend of drama and fantasy that stars Jeff Bridges and the late, great Robin Williams in what may arguably be their most extraordinary performances as two strangers who become unlikely soulmates.
Egotistical and misanthropic radio host Jack Lucas (Bridges) carelessly spews shock-jock venom on the airwaves, until one day his words catch up with him when his vitriolic rants prompt a listener to commit a mass shooting. Reduced to a traumatized shell, and retreating into an alcohol-fueled sea of depression, Lucas moves in with his feisty but patient video-store-owner girlfriend Anne (Mercedes Ruehl in a scene-stealing, Oscar-winning performance). During one particularly bad bender, Jack is mistaken for a homeless man and assaulted by a group of bullies, only to find himself rescued by a hyper and mega-friendly homeless man named Parry (Williams), who confides in Jack that he is not only in love with the mousy Lynda (Amanda Plummer) – a woman he’s never met – but he’s also on a mission to find the Holy Grail in New York. At first laughing off Perry’s bewildering and delusional musings, Jack begins to identify his new friendship as an opportunity for redemption, ultimately finding himself committed to help Perry at all costs.
Elevated by a rich and original Oscar-nominated screenplay by Richard LaGravenese, The Fisher King is a towering achievement brimming with both literal and visual poetry, and one of Gilliam’s most acclaimed and awarded films.
“Working within the constraints of a big studio film has brought out Gilliam’s best: he’s become a true storyteller and a wonderful director of actors. This time he delights not only the eye but the soul.” – David Ansen Newsweek
“Scary, touching, often hilarious, this modern fairy tale is surprisingly enchanting.” – Geoff Andrew, Time Out
“A modern epic that fuses myth with hard-edged reality, it’s a one-of-a-kind, thoroughly engaging experience.” – Desson Thomson, The Washington Post