A beloved American icon who left us way too soon, it’s hard to watch just about any Robin Williams performance without feeling some sense of loss and sadness. His performance in the melancholy drama Boulevard, one of his last, adds even another layer.
Directed by Dito Montiel from a script by Douglas Soesbe, the film follows Nolan Mack (Williams), a middle-aged man who has worked at the same bank for almost three decades in a life of monotony. He and his wife Joy (Kathy Baker) have embraced their marriage as a convenient and comfortable distraction from facing reality. However one day, what starts as an aimless drive down an unfamiliar street turns into a life-altering decision for Nolan when he meets a troubled young hustler named Leo (Roberto Aguire) on his drive home from visiting his ailing father at a hospital.
Nolan begins to seek Leo out and spend time with him. The relationship is never consummated, but they spend hours talking. As Nolan spends more time with Leo, he finds himself breaking from the confines of his old life and coming to terms with who he really is: a gay man stuck in the closet. The more he awakens to his true self, the stranger he appears to his friends and loves ones – especially his wife. An unavoidable confrontation – one that should have been had ages ago – starts to brew.
Co-starring Bob Odenkirk and Giles Matthey, Boulevard takes an unflinching look at the difficulties of coming out late in life and features a deeply vulnerable performance from Williams worth cherishing. The film also comes from a place of honesty. Screenwriter Douglas Soesbe underwent a similar coming out experience, telling Creative Screenwriting, “I came out very late and with a great deal of guilt. This movie is not about me, but I really understand that character.”