When Robin Williams died last year the two roles that people mentioned the most were the Genie in “Aladdin” and Mork on “Mork and Mindy”. There is no questioning that Robin Williams was an incredible comedic gift for the world. For as funny as he was we all know now that there was a deep darkness beneath the surface. Even before his death I preferred his dramatic work, and I’m not talking the work where he blended his comedy with drama like in “Good Morning Vietnam” and “The Fisher King.” My absolute favorite performances from Robin Williams came in straight up dramas like “The World According to Garp”, “What Dreams May Come” and his Academy Award winning performance in “Good Will Hunting”.
We know he could go for it and be totally manic, that’s why I always found it so impressive when he could hold all that energy back and just play a character.
Last Friday my husband and I went to see “Boulevard”, which is the last film that Robin Williams appeared in (there is one film where he did voice work that is yet to be released).
I am glad that his final film is not only a drama but one of his best.
The movie is about a sixty year old closeted gay man named Nolan (Williams) who works at a passable job and is in a passable marriage to woman named Joy (Kathy Baker). Nolan isn’t necessarily unhappy, he’s just asleep. When his boss pushes him to go for a promotion his world begins to shift. One night he takes a ride down a Boulevard where prostitutes hang out. After nearly hitting a male prostitute named Leo (Roberto Aguire) he apologizes and then takes Leo back to hotel. The two men don’t have sex. Instead what begins is a relationship that for Nolan is like a middle school or high school infatuation.
As his infatuation with Leo borders on obsession it begins to bleed into other parts of his life forcing everything to change in the process.
Robin Williams in absolutely brilliant in the movie, he is so incredibly subdued that at first it is hard to believe it’s the same actor who played Mrs. Doutbfire. The repression that Norman has carried around his entire life is showed in Williams’s voice and movements. There is a caution that he has in every move he makes. But there are moments when he begins to show emotion. In those moments your heart breaks. Not just for Nolan but for Williams and all of us as movie goers. There really was nothing that Robin Williams wasn’t capable of on screen and to know that this is the last we will see of him is almost too much to bear. There are two scenes toward the end of the movie that would make incredible Oscar clips if enough people see this movie and remember it by the end of the year. But I know a fifth and final Oscar nomination for Robin Williams is unlikely. I am just happy that this film found a theatrical release.
The rest of the performances are fantastic. Emmy Winner Kathy Baker if phenomenal as Joy. Joy loves Nolan very deeply but the truth that they have both denied for so long has cost them years of true happiness.
Roberto Aguire is also excellent as Leo, as is Bob Odenkirk as Nolan’s best friend.
In addition to enjoying the film I also got to check out a Q&A after the movie with Roberto Aguire, the director Dito Montiel, screenwriter Douglas Soesbe and the musician who scored he film. It was so interesting to hear their insights into the film, the characters and Robin William’s performance.
The film has a gotten a very limited release but if it is playing anywhere near you I implore you to go see it. Don’t go see crap like “Ant-man”. Go see the final film of a Hollywood legend.
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