Movie: The Fisher King (1991)

I suppose it’s obvious why I’ve been going over Robin Williams movies lately.  This is one of the best.  At heart it’s a movie about homelessness, mental illness, social ineptness, the complexities of friendship and love, and a good bit more.  Of course, it’s inevitably about the immense and unique talent of Robin Williams.

And Jeff Bridges.  He plays Jack, a shock jock who gets a shock himself when one of the callers to which he rudely mouthed off goes on a shooting spree, killing several innocent people before killing himself.  A year after the event, he’s still guilt-tripping when he unexpectedly meets Parry, played by Robin Williams, whose beautiful wife was killed in the incident.  Parry is now doing his manic delusion of being a knight in search of the holy grail on the mean streets of the city, where a group of other homeless men have bought into his fantasy.  Jack decides he can make amends for his “crime” by doing something to help Jack.

How he decides to help Jack is too insane to be described, but Jack manages to also help himself and a shy young woman in the process.

So really, the story is about compassion, and that’s the one thing we all need to consider first in dealing with those people who are homeless, dirty, acting crazy, begging for spare change, that we would rather not see.  Parry and his friends don’t sound so crazy in context, and actually make some rather wise comments at times, including the guy in the wheelchair who talks to Jack while he panhandles outside the train station.  He’s not only savvy about his own circumstances, he really seems to have more compassion for the “ordinary” people who pass him by than they have for him.

I’ve spent enough time homeless myself, in my wicked past, as well as done some panhandling.  I’ve also spent time in a few mental hospitals.  This movie kept clutching at my heart as only Robin Williams can.

Statements in this review do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.