Boulevard full movie review - A Final Bow
It's been nearly a year since we lost Robin Williams to a long-standing
bout of depression that eventually led to his suicide.
This led to an
enormous outcry of grief all over the celebrity and social media world
from those who had grown up on his movies, television and standup and
caused many to reflect on this talent that we had perhaps taken for
granted. No one can deny that his movies weren't always diamonds, but
his work in them was almost always admirable and memorable. The fact
that he spent the last couple of years of his life giving great
performances in terrible little-seen direct to VOD films ("The Angriest
Man In Brooklyn", "A Merry Friggin' Christmas"), with the occasional
cameo in something truly awful ("The Big Wedding"), is a rather tragic
thought. But fortunately, with Dito Montiel's newly released film
Boulevard, Williams goes out strong, if not quite on top.
Williams plays Nolan, a man who's stuck in your typical indie-film
marriage, i.e. loveless. He's friendly and cordial with his wife, but
is clearly missing something vital. One night he's driving home and
spots a group of gay hookers on the sidewalk and after nearly
accidentally running one over, he befriends him and starts to confront
his closeted homosexuality.
He gets advice from his friend Winston, played by Bob Odenkirk, who
brings all the levity and spontaneity that you'd hope for from the guy
who plays Saul Goodman in a role that could have felt a tad
superfluous. He's clearly only in the movie to give Nolan a person off
which to bounce his thoughts, but with an actor like Odenkirk in the
role, it's hard to complain about such matters.
If you feel like you've seen this film before, you probably have. We've
seen this suburbia set-up many times over the last couple of decades,
so when a film goes for this, you really have to count on strong
performances and interesting surprises to make it worth your while.
Thanks to Williams' tender, vulnerable, aching performance, the film
always stays on the side of watchable, and often fascinating. An
electronic synthesizer score often tends to call too much attention to
itself and distract from the fine performances by not just Williams,
but also Roberto Aguire as Leo, the young man whom Nolan befriends.
Fortunately though, once the film firmly establishes what it's about,
such distracting little director quirks either ceased altogether, or
just stopped bothering me.
Certainly for someone like me, a huge fan of his work, it's impossible
to watch Williams play such a sad, morose character and not be reminded
of what happened shortly after this film was finished. It's just
unavoidable. But thankfully, that would just be me reading too much
into the story. The man was an actor, and an excellent one at that.
Remove all of the comedies from his resume, and you're still left with
one of the most impressive collections of dramatic performances in
recent memory. This film is no exception. Every time he smiles to avoid
confronting the pain and confusion that Nolan feels so strongly, we
don't question him in the slightest bit. When we see him look at Leo
with his expression of sorrow and pity, it's impossible not to feel
right there with him.
It may not be best film of Williams' career, and it's a real shame that
he never experienced the ultra renaissance that I'm sure was on the
horizon for him, but as a film for an actor of this stature to go out
on, he could have done much worse than "Boulevard".