It’s incredibly hard to believe that it has already been one year that legendary comedian and highly-respected actor Robin Williams tragically died by committing suicide at the age of 63. His film legacy is full of highs and lows, but Robin’s career path is nothing short of remarkable considering the range of roles the performer took on through the years. From the zany, kid-friendly comedy characters (Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook) to the mentor/motivator of youthful minds (Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting) and certainly the dark and twisted psychologically bent shoes he filled from time to time (Insomnia, One Hour Photo).
A small independent effort entitled Boulevard represents the final live on-screen film performance of the late actor to be released and while it may not be the glorious, studio-glossy send-off that Williams so richly deserves to have, the movie is no less meaningful not only to the actor himself but the role he ultimately plays. Williams stars as Nolan Mack; a seemingly happily married man with a strong career and a comfortable life. But behind closed doors, Mack is anything but content, living in a marriage of convenience with his wife (Kathy Baker) in separate rooms and hurting on the inside because he can’t express to everyone who he really is and the secret life he’s been keeping under wraps for years.
All that unravels when Mack takes a late-night drive and picks up a male-prostitute known as Leo (Roberto Aguire), who Mack simply just wants to form a bond with at first and then succumbs to his instincts by falling in love with the boy later on. The submission results in Mack’s world coming undone both professionally and personally as he struggles with hiding the relationship and wrestling with the idea of living the life he always wanted by starting over in his 60’s.
Boulevard is small-level human interest drama, but it’s message is very poignant in much the same way Brokeback Mountain intended to be. Williams was known to take on a daring role or two and this one is definitely noteworthy for several reasons. Mack is suffering and breaking on the inside, because since he was 12 he’s never acted on the feelings he’s always had. It’s no secret that Williams had his own inner demons he was constantly struggling with, so in a sense this role is a significant one to witness. It’s a fitting end for the actor considering he might have been the best choice to play the character in retrospect to where each individual were in their lives, both on-screen and off.
While the movie plays at a slow-burn pace, it spends an excellent amount of time with character and depth, nuanced of course with the masterful performance of Williams and a fairly strong supporting cast which includes Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk. Boulevard (directed by The Son Of No One’s Dito Montiel) will be playing in a limited engagement within Toronto at The Royal (608 College Street) starting Friday, August 14-18, 21-23 and the 27th.