Boulevard (Dito Montiel, 2015)
The late Robin Williams makes his final on-screen appearance in Boulevard, as Nolan Mack, a man who has worked the same job in Nashville bank for nearly 26 years and who is embraced in a marriage of convenience with his wife, Joy (Kathy Baker). On a chance encounter with street-wise Leo (Roberto Aguire), Nolan Mack begins to finally come to terms with who he really is. Robin Williams is no stranger to films of a more depressing and darker nature, portraying characters with more shrouded and sombre personalities, such as his role as murderer, Walter Finch, in Insomnia (Christopher Nolan, 2002). However, Boulevard is a film that unfortunately packs little surprises, but it is superbly written and as anticipated, Williams delivers a convincing performance.
We are immediately aware of the monotone life Nolan Mack leads, in which his relationship with his wife lacks any intimacy. Nolan has a stable job, friends, and despite his dull marriage, he has a seemingly ordinary life, but it is clearly not the life he wants. After his father’s cardiac arrest, Nolan subsequently drives down a street in town and picks up Leo, a male prostitute and pays him for company, rather than sex. Whilst Leo is unable to understand Nolan’s refusal to attain his service, 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.
Montiel constructs the film in a way that is not just a depiction of a coming-out story, but the film sends the message of accepting one’s self and embracing reality and the truth, so 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 epitomises the entire film and its messages. Montiel produces some 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 incredibly dreary in some parts. Some viewers may find themselves waiting for something more interesting to happen, but this is certainly a film that was not made with the intention to entertain, and instead has a distinctive quality that is comparable to an art-house film. The scenes with Nolan’s father in hospital are depressing to watch and when focusing on William’s gloomy depiction of Nolan, it is difficult not to think about how closely it could have resembled Robin Williams in his final months.
Montiel executes a good idea in a way that may leave viewers feeling a bit empty inside. 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 twist or surprise. All in all, Boulevard was a satisfactory effort from Montiel and it is worth watching if you would like to see the legendary Robin Williams grace your screen one last time.