Director: Terry Gilliam
As a teenage Python obsessive at the turn of the Nineties I devoured anything related to them whether it be the genius of Ripping Yarns to tangential rubbish they had been involved in (take your pick) and I think I didn’t really get with The Fisher King in 1991. It had one of my childhood heroes Mork in it but it wasn’t a laugh riot from end to end.
Picked up the Criterion Blu Ray on TFK last week as it dipped in price in the sales and gave it another shot over the weekend as I know it’s good and I recall watching The South Bank Show at the time which gushed over that scene in Grand Central Station. I was a naïve young fool back then is my only conclusion who like Jeff Bridges’ Jack at the beginning of the film didn’t believe in magic. For a start – when it is funny, its really funny – not just Robin Williams’ portrayal of Parry the street person’s psychosis in full flight – a mix of Shakespearean verse, quips and close harmony singing but the extremely well drawn female characters have some of the best lines. Amanda Plummer’s Lydia, the unrequited love interest of Parry, is equally as oddball as some of down n outs but somehow manages to hold on to a job and semblance of reality. Mercedes Ruel’s Anne as Jacks supportive, sarcastic and strong girlfriend helping him rebuild his life after a tragedy that he inadvertently caused acts up a storm whether wisecracking or letting fly her frustrations.
Of course with hindsight the most aching part of the film is Robin’s performance – not just in terms of the narrative arc he goes through from street bum, his past trauma, looking for and finding love and losing grip of reality whilst pursued by an imaginary red knight that symbolises – well, it’s up to you what it means but as always Terry Gilliam brings these fantastic images to life with a cartoonist’s eye.
Its those moments of lucidity that Parry has where Williams plays the scene pretty straight but without the mawkish edge that tainted so many of his other performances that make you wish he was still around so he could shine again like this just once. The sweetness of his scenes like Plummer on their date mixed with clowning and one liners ‘I’ve got a hard on for you the size of Florida’ is entirely believable and real. He was able to pull back on the manic persona when needed to show real depth and humanity – the dark core of his own personality perhaps but don’t wanna get all psyche on yo ass
New York looks fantastic in the movie, you are knocked out by the variety of structures and building styles in amongst the steel and glass, showing off the best of the city. The story is about redemption love, madness and magic shot through the prism of Arthurian legend, Dante’s Inferno and Tom Waits as a diaabled Vietnam veteran. You don’t get that from Michael Bay
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Their Mork more than their mawk, spread a little magic if you will
New York in Spring (how about you?)