In the second half of his career, Robin Williams was most often praised for roles in which he played against type. Good Will Hunting, Awakenings, Insomnia, One Hour Photo – all performances in which he tamped down his tendency towards comic showboating.
Outside more family-friendly efforts such as Aladdin and Mrs Doubtfire, The Fisher King is a relatively rare example of a film inarguably aimed at grownups which manages to utilise Williams natural talents and even amplify them.
Williams plays Parry, a traumatised vagrant with a fixation on medieval myths and legends. On a cold night in New York, he charges to the rescue of Jack Lucas, a suicidal former shock-jock with an unwitting connection to Parry’s tragic past. Jack is played by the great Jeff Bridges, and his genius for understatement makes him a perfect foil for Williams.
The acting is by far the best thing about The Fisher King – not only from Williams and Bridges, but also Amanda Plummer, Michael Jeter, and particularly Mercedes Ruehl, who damn near walks away with the entire picture as Jack’s supportive, strong-willed and deceptively astute girlfriend Anne.
In this week’s podcast, we break down the plot, compare the movie very favourably to last week’s Robin Williams/Monty Python hook-up (this one was directed by Terry Gilliam), debate the thin line between love and stalking, reminisce about the golden age of VHS rental stores and much more. As is tradition, we also brainstorm some drinking games, check in with our listeners and pitch some sequel ideas to bring the movie back to the big screen.
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Next week, we’re continuing our impromptu Robin Williams season with a look back at his long overdue Oscar win. Until then, happy listening and remember – there’s nothing romantic about stalking…