Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robin Williams, Kathy Baker, Roberto Aguire, Giles Matthey, Eleonore Hendricks, Bob Odenkirk, Henry Haggard
Written by: Douglas Soesbe
Directed by: Dito Montiel
MPAA Rating: R for language and sexual content
Running Time: 0
Date: 07/10/2015

Boulevard (2015)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Gay and Night

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Even if the movie stumbles over a few clunky plot turns, the final live-action performance of the late Robin Williams is a powerful one, still and deep, calling on limitless reserves of pain and longing. Dito Montiel directs, and typical of his work, his rich characters and realistic atmosphere outweigh his storytelling. In some of his films, the balance tips the wrong way, but in Boulevard, it works. And it's mainly thanks to Williams, in his most soul-searching mode, that it does.

Nolan Mack (Williams) is a mild-mannered banker, living a quiet life with his longtime wife Joy (Kathy Baker), and occasionally visiting with his best friend, Winston (Bob Odenkirk). His father is dying in the hospital, and while driving home after one visit, Nolan spots a young male prostitute, Leo (Roberto Aguire). He pays the young man and spends time with him; they don't have sex, but Nolan is clearly smitten. He begins to come to terms with the fact that he is gay, but as he tries to bring Leo into his life, he finds himself drawn further into Leo's seedy world, a world of violent pimps, drugs, and other dark things. Nolan must find the courage to realize what he wants in his life and go after it.

As the wise wife, Kathy Baker is terrific; she knows something is up based on the slightest irregularity in the routine, and Bob Odenkirk is a breath of fresh air as the best friend who does not suffer foolishness gladly. Scenes with a scary pimp threatening Leo and Nolan feel hysterical and fake, and moments when Nolan frantically tries to keep his secret life under wraps are fraught with awkward coincidence. But Williams never strikes a false note, and it's a strong farewell to a great actor.

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