Directed by Dito Montiel.
Starring Robin Williams, Kathy Baker, Roberto Aguire, Giles Matthey, Eleonore Hendricks and Bob Odenkirk. 89 mins.
Boulevard isn't actually Robin Williams's final film, but it is the last to make it into cinemas. This quirk of releasing gives the film a cruel poignancy because in it he plays a dissatisfied, unhappy man living a lie and feeling like he's wasted his life. He seems wholly too comfortable in the role.
His character Nolan (Williams) is so repressed it takes him 60 years to build up to a double life. He has suppressed his true sexual nature and has spent his entire adult life in a lovingly loveless marriage with Joy (Baker) while working away steadily at the bank. Williams had a double life of his own, flipping between the aggressive, attention hogging comedian and the straight actor Williams. The first was joyous ball of energy and invention; the second a pitiful abused puppy so self effacing and so reticent, his neck visibly retracting into his shoulders, that he was like a willing doormat who invited abuse in the hope that this would give him the audience's love.
Throughout his career Williams consistently engaged with gay issues and culture. He wasn't the kind of actor who would take on gay roles are a chance to make a “brave” career move or Oscar plead. The problem with Boulevard is that his version of a closeted gay man is a very Straight Robin Wiliams dramatic creation. He is pathetic beyond the call of duty. Nolan can't just decide one night while driving home to pick up prostitute (Aquire) on a street corner and have sex with him; he picks up Leo, takes him to a motel, doesn't have sex with him, gives him money, gives him a phone to ring him with and, basically, falls in love with the first boy he picks up off the street. Rather than gay, maybe he was closeted masochistic all these years because his every action seems designed to cause himself misery, which Williams greets with the kind of sanguine look of discontent he used throughout his career.
If the character hadn't been such a meek and willing victim, it could have been memorable last role for Williams. Odenkirk is good comedy value as his acerbic best friend and Kathy Baker makes something special out of the role of the wife.
It doesn't help that the plotting of this late in life tragedy seems to have been pinched from Terry and June episodes. Every time he is secretly out with Leo, he bumps into someone he knows; when covering up where he's been and who he's been with, his lies get caught out almost immediately. He's up for promotion in the bank and to get it he has to have dinner with the big boss. The day before the colleague who recommended him tells him not to mess this up and you just know that the phone is going to ring just as the wife is fixing his tie.