In which we say goodbye to a friend...
In Robin Williams' last movie, Boulevard, he plays Nolan, a deeply unhappy man approaching old age, who must face some hard truths about himself and the unsatistfying life he lives. That Nolan is gay and Williams was not, is irrelevant. It's impossible to watch this movie without layering on the real-life tragedy of Williams' final fate. Yes, it does give the movie a bit more poignancy and meaning than it has earned on its own, much in the same way Heath Ledger's ghoulish Joker became all the more terrifying. But that's okay. I hate to be unkind, but this movie could use a little help.
It's not a bad movie by any means. It's filled with fantastic performances from top to bottom, from Williams to an excellent Kathy Baker as his wife, to newcomer Roberto Aguire and bonafide now-legit character actor Bob Odenkirk. But the plot is rather pedestrian, following the beats of many a "coming out" story. The kind of movie that seemed revelatory in the 90's has been completely played out by 2015. The writing is fine, the direction is workmanlike and everything is going along at a solid B-/C+ clip. If it weren't for Williams, the whole thing would be entirely forgettable.
Nolan, the sad-sack closet case who goes trolling down the boulevard looking for male companionship finds it in Leo, the sweet-faced prostitute with the heart of you know. Nolan imprints upon him immediately, like a baby duckling to its mom, and Leo is taken aback by the older man's gentle nature. To the fim's everlasting credit, the movie plays things out as one would expect them to be played out. There's no silly Pretty Woman scenario in the works, here. And while in 2015 it's harder and harder for me to find sympathy for a man who hasn't yet come out and who has dragged an innoncent unsuspecting woman into his web of deception, Robin Williams manages to pull it off. You feel for Nolan. And of course you feel for Robin, too. And that sells it. It isn't a great movie, but it's been made better by having Robin Williams around. Just like the rest of us.