The late Robin Williams makes his final on-screen appearance in Boulevard. He plays Nolan Mack, a man who has worked the same job in a Nashville bank for nearly 26 years, who is stuck in a dead-end marriage with his wife, Joy (Kathy Baker). After a chance encounter with a street-wise man named Leo (Roberto Aguire), Nolan begins to finally accept who he really is. Robin Williams is no stranger to films of a more depressing and darker nature, as he has portrayed characters with more shrouded and sombre personalities many times in his career. One example that immediately springs in my mind, is his role as murderer Walter Finch, in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia (2002). However, Boulevard is a film that unfortunately packs little surprises, but it is superbly written and as expected, Williams delivers a very strong and convincing performance.
We are then immediately made aware of Nolan’s monotonous life, as his relationship lacks any real intimacy. He and his wife are very distant and often sleep in separate rooms. Nolan has a stable job, friends, and despite his dull marriage, he has an ordinary life, but this is clearly not ideal for him. One night, Nolan finds himself driving down a street in town and meets Leo, a male prostitute and pays him for company, rather than sex. Whilst Leo is unable to understand Nolan’s decision, Nolan for the first time begins to feel connected to another person and the secret he has kept buried for so long finally begins to unravel, impacting his marriage and public life.
Director Dito Montiel does not simply produce a coming-out story, he more importantly projects the message of accepting one’s self and embracing the truth and reality. Also, the film does not sensationalise homosexuality in any way. “Maybe it’s never too late to start living the life you really want,” says Nolan and this inspiring line that epitomises the entire film. Boulevard contains some incredibly powerful scenes, one being the confrontation with his wife and her inability to accept her husband’s need to change his life.
Although Boulevard is great for what is stands for, the film is quite dreary in some parts. Some viewers may find themselves impatiently waiting for something more interesting to happen. This is certainly a film that was not made for entertainment purposes. It has a distinctive quality that is comparable to that of an art-house film. It is raw, honest and emotional. When focusing on William’s gloomy depiction of Nolan, it is difficult not to imagine how closely it might have resembled Robin Williams in his final months.
Montiel executes an inspiring idea that may leave viewers feeling a bit empty inside. I don’t think the film is sad enough to reduce anyone to tears, but it is harrowing in places. The film’s ending was the obvious conclusion and although it does end on an optimistic note, it falls a bit flat quite simply because it lacks any surprise. A twist in the tale is hardly the point here though, as the film is simply an exploration of man finally accepting reality and living the life he really wants. All in all, Boulevard is a satisfactory film and it is worth watching if you would like to see the legendary Robin Williams grace your screen one last time.
By Liam Springate-Jones