The Fisher King has two actors at the top of their form, and a compelling, well-directed and well-produced story. First-time screenwriter Richard LaGravenese’s lively, detailed original script deftly delineates the top and bottom rungs of human existence in Manhattan. Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) is a callous, egotistical radio shock-jock who falls apart after a caller he has blown off on the air proceeds to blow away seven yuppies in a trendy club. Just as he is about to end it all, Jack is rescued by a goofy gang of derelicts led by a maniac named Parry (Robin Williams).
While recovering from his suicidal state, Jack learns that Parry is obsessed with the Holy Grail, as well as with a gawky young lady Lydia (Amanda Plummer). Jack’s earnest attempts to return Parry to normal life and set him up with the elusive Lydia represent his chance at personal redemption.
Film’s first two hours zip by quickly and are spiked with memorable scenes such as a flight-of-fancy in which commuters waltz through Grand Central. But the final 20 minutes unspool mechanically and interminably as Jack implausibly follows through on the mythological demands of the story.
Jeff Bridges gives what is undoubtedly his strongest lead performance to date hitting notes he’s never tried before in conveying the turmoil inside an arrogant man. Williams is endlessly inventive as usual, Plummer is terrific as the nerdy loner, and Mercedes Ruehl sizzles as Jack’s upfront companion, Anne.
1991: Best Supp. Actress (Mercedes Ruehl).
Nominations: Best Actor (Robin Williams), Original Screenplay, Original Score, Art Direction