Director: Dito Montiel
Cast: Robin Williams, Bob Odenkirk, Kathy Baker, Roberto Aguire, Giles Matthey, Eleonore Hendricks, J. Karen Thomas, Landon Marshall
Runtime: 1 hr 28 mins
Rating: R21 (Homosexual Theme)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 8 October 2015
Synopsis: The routine of everyday life quietly peels away to reveal the struggle of a loving husband in conflict with his inner-self in BOULEVARD. As the bond of a longtime marriage confronts reality for the first time, desire finds its way back into the heart. While Nolan Mack (Robin Williams) and his wife Joy (Kathy Baker) wake up under the same roof each morning, separate bedrooms underscore the disparate worlds they are living in. Nolan’s steady disconnection carries on in his job at the bank, where even a promotion cannot seem to lift the emptiness that permeates his life. His emotional journey begins to unfold with a drive down a desolate city street where he encounters a troubled young man named Leo (Roberto Aguire). As lost time slowly awakens Nolan’s secret life, he realizes that truth is an opportunity for change. Directed by Dito Montiel and written by Douglas Soesbe, BOULEVARD beautifully captures the story of individual growth at any age, and the repression that surfaces in idealistic pursuits. With moving performances from a cast including Robin Williams, Kathy Baker, Bob Odenkirk, and newcomer Roberto Aguire, BOULEVARD reminds audiences that societal norms are never normal.
Robin Williams makes a hazy entry (as hazy as his sexual orientation) with his voice beckoning for all to listen while he converses with his father who is at a home for the aged.
And the scene transits to the opening credits where it has Williams’ character cruising along in his car in the nadir of the night as he briefly halts when he sees a streetwalker on a wheelchair crossing the road to wait for customers. He watches her in the rearview mirror and a subtle smile plays on his lips. This sets the predominant tone of the entire film.
Nolan Mack (Williams) is trapped in a mundane blur that revolves around a dying father, a promotion at his 26-year-old desk-bound job which holds him back on different levels, and an attentive wife (Kathy Baker) whom he shares nothing but a roof with. He puts on a façade when around everybody and morphs into his true self when he drives back home at night.
Amidst all these, Nolan (Williams) only gets to be himself while cruising the boulevard in his Merc at night. And on one occasion, he decides to make a U-turn to get to the other side of life where he happens to meet a gay streetwalker. Nolan (Williams) checks into a motel and shares a fleeting conversation with Leo (Roberto Aguire). Nolan (Williams) develops an unexplainable affection for this young thing who is just as confused. Basically, it’s a two-faced man-meets-pretty-boy love story leaning more to an emotional kind of attachment rather than a raunchy sexual relationship.
Definitely a depressing plot that harbours a kind of loneliness that carries forward for the rest of the 88 minutes until the end where some colour was thrown in (think of Skittles) and each of the characters find their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The cast was brilliant. Boulevard has to be Williams’ one of the final bows to the world. One has to watch this without dissing it as a gay movie not because of Williams’ farewell movie, but because it is soul-searching drama that narrates a story of a man who loses himself to find the real him. Douglas Soesbe’s screenplay was terrific with a brilliant cast that offered much depth to the plot. Although there is no concreteness to the storyline, Williams’ melancholic character seeped right through the plot and Aguire’s usual manly demeanor was pleasantly compromised for a subtle role.
One would sorely miss the amusing side of the Academy Award winner from Jumanji and Mrs. Doubtfire but then again, Williams has been described as a national treasure when it comes to offering roles of substance and this has to be one such instance.
(Watch this film if you had liked Blue is the Warmest Colour, Circumstance, Eyes Wide Open and Good Will Hunting)
Review by Asha Gizelle M