One of Robin Williams’s last motion pictures has come to Blu-ray. It’s called Boulevard and takes on a dark secret that his character has from the past. Nicely filmed and directed the movie catches you off guard in the beginning then slowly tells its unusual tale. If you are a film buff it’s a must see, for others it’s an acquired taste in subject matter. The film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD for home viewing.
In Boulevard Williams plays Nolan Mack a man who’s reached the summit of his life. A respected husband to his wife Joy (Kathy Baker) and a bank loan officer. Nolan’s boss thinks highly of his past 26 years of service and offers him a manager’s job at another branch. Happy with the prospect he confides in his friend Winston (Bob Odenkirk) who encourages him to accept it.
Visiting Nolan’s home that evening with his girlfriend Patty (Eleonore Hendricks) Winston brings up the promotion at the dinner table. Taken aback by the announcement, Joy questions Nolan as to why he didn’t let her know of the promotion offer. Lost in thought about why he didn’t tell his wife, Nolan makes an excuse to go out that evening. Driving down Hollywood Boulevard he spots a couple of hookers looking to get picked up. There he meets Leo (Roberto Aguire) a young male prostitute who he takes to a motel.
The film progresses with Nolan confronting his past and the choices he made one of which was not admitting to his desire for intimate male companionship. Director Dito Montiel (The Son of No One) keeps his film intriguing and compelling as he walks Robin Williams through the very difficult role. He keeps things simple and to the point putting Nolan in the quandary of facing his past inside Leo.
But beyond the story itself, which has plot holes and gets too convenient, there’s no solid platform for the characters. Predictable, I found myself getting to the end quicker than it takes to play out its 88 minutes. More of a carrot to what a good many fans feel about Robin William sexual orientation, I couldn’t help focusing on the message the film was sending rather than for its entertainment value.
That said, Robin Williams gives one of the most enigmatic performances of his life in Boulevard. Although he seems to connect to his role in this film, more so than any other, the character he creates borders on lifeless. It’s as if he saw something in the character that struck a chord and distracted him. He seems to lose inspiration, just going through the motions so the film would be made. I have seen nearly every film Williams has made from Popeye on up, missing very few in between, but the lack of intensity of this character leaves a lasting feel that’s not easy to avoid. Even toward the end of the movie he stumbles a bit and losses his connection with Kathy Baker not giving the energy of past performances.
Casting mistakes also hurt the film. Using Bod Odenkirk in the role as Nolan’s best friend distracts. He’s much younger looking, often boisterous and totally out of place when it comes to being a confidant. The character he presents is not a person who someone like Nolan would go to for advice or invite to his home for a dinner party. Playing Eddie a pimp to whom Leo owes money, Giles Matthey bully’s his way through his role trying to make his character a meaningful tough master. But, in the long run he’s just a wimp, not representative of the kind of street thug that would be involved with handling male prostitutes. Maybe it’s because his scenes are contrived, conveniently written into the film to add some drama.
Boulevard has been rated R by the MPAA for language and sexual content. There are a few scenes of violence that need to be pointed out as well.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Script, direction and casting hurt Boulevard’s chances for greatness. (C )
Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Robin Williams, Kathy Baker, Bob Odenkirk, Roberto Aguire, Eleonore Hendricks and Giles Matthey
Director: Dito Montiel (The Son of No One)
MPAA Rating: R for language and sexual content
Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.
Original Theatrical Release Date: July 10, 2015
Video Release Date: September 1, 2015
Reviewed Format: Blu-ray (also available in DVD)
Audio: Dolby True HD 5.1
Video: Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Number of Discs: 1 Disc
Distributed by: Anchor Bay