“… created a very emotional experience with the story, performances, and even the directing.”
So last night I watched The Fisher King and it sure was something. The Fisher King is one of those movies that I think has to be seen, because if I tell you the plot it will remove some of the mystery around the film which is a big part of it. There are no huge plot twists or anything, but regardless The Fisher King is a movie best experienced if you go into it completely blind much like I did. That being said, if you are looking for a synopsis all I will say is that The Fisher King is a movie about dealing with consequences.
What surprised me most about The Fisher King was just how fucking dark it was, even right at the beginning. Immediately we are slapped in the face with what kind of story is being told, and it is one that doesn’t take matters lightly. The entire movie has this aura about it that is so bleak, but at the same time it is so bizarre that I was constantly on the edge of my seat. This feeling of not knowing wether to laugh or cry is why I loved this movie so much; it managed to take hold of my emotions and effortlessly manipulate them for two hours. The story and the characters presented in The Fisher King are so interesting that I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen. I wanted to know more, but at the same time I wanted to turn the movie off to spare my feelings. When The Fisher King ended I was left with a feeling of emptiness; not because the movie was bad, but because what I had just watched was so emotionally taxing. This feeling is not only because of the story itself, but because of the absolutely phenomenal performances present in the movie. Jeff Bridges gives what I would argue is one of his better performances (and that’s saying something) as Jack Lucas. The emotion that he was able to convey in his performance and the struggle that he brought to life were absolutely heart wrenching but at the same time relatable. Robin Williams also gives a great performance as Perry by once again bringing so much emotion to the character. Perry as a character is so outlandish which makes Williams a perfect casting, but at the same time Perry at his core is just like everyone else. Williams is able to show this and make sure that we as an audience can connect to this very strange man. Another ingredient to the connection I have to The Fisher King was Terry Gilliam’s directing. Now those familiar with Gilliam’s work will know that he is very comfortable with the unusual, and it’s not that I dislike his other films but I think his style was fucking made for The Fisher King. The way that Gilliam’s directing is able to give the audience intimate moments with the characters while at the same time creating this almost alien feel is amazing. There is a harsh contrast between the relatability of the characters and the absurd Gilliam visuals that go together like salty and sweet. These strange direction choices push us away from the characters, but at the same time they pull us closer. They make us relate to what these characters are going through which in turn makes us more sympathetic. All I can say is that everything in The Fisher King just worked.
The rest of this review will have spoilers for The Fisher King. If you have yet to see The Fisher King, I suggest that you do so before reading any further.
Well, almost everything worked. See, The Fisher King opens and immediately we are faced with what kind of movie we are about to see; this I’ve already said. The problem is that about halfway through The Fisher King takes a left turn into something completely different. The issues that are explored in The Fisher King are very delicate and very important, so to have the film turn into a generic romantic comedy halfway through was kind of a bummer. It’s not that there weren’t any good moments during the few scenes that revolved around Perry meeting his dream girl, but overall it just felt so different from what we had been seeing. For a few minutes everything was normal, and unfortunately I find normal boring. I will admit that these scenes do build up to one of the more intense moments in the film, but overall they just stuck out like a sore thumb. The next problem I have with The Fisher King is the ending. The movie had essentially set up that Jack was “The Fisher King”. He needed to learn that you don’t do things for yourself, you do things because they need to be done. Jack assumes that he “fixed” his problem because he helped Perry get a girlfriend, so he immediately goes back to his old self. This was wonderful, and it perfectly fit into the metaphor that was presented earlier. But my problem is at the very end of the film. After Jack gets the “Holy Grail”, he immediately changes his ways and becomes a good guy again. My problem is that this was not built up in any way. Jack gets the Grail claiming that he’s doing it “because he wants to” but that isn’t true. He’s getting the Grail for the same reason that he got the girl; he wants to clear his conscious. So why does that suddenly make him realize that he’s been an asshole all along? This doesn’t make any sense because Jack didn’t do anything differently. You could argue that Perry was “fixed” so Jack felt better, but it all happened so fast that the film didn’t really take that path. The ending of The Fisher King seemed to want to put a pretty bow on a broken gift and call it a night, but that goes against everything that the movie was about beforehand.
Overall The Fisher King is a very interesting movie. It’s certainly not flawless from a story perspective, but everything else works so great that I have to congratulate it. It created a very emotional experience with the story, performances, and even the directing. It’s definitely a movie that I recommend you check out if you haven’t seen it.
I give The Fisher King a B