After Robin Williams’ untimely death, it looked for a while like we might not see his final movie beyond festival and other limited screenings. Despite starring the much-loved actor, distributors seemed to be shying away from it. However now the movie has arrived and you can see why in the immediate aftermath of Williams’ demise distributors might have had pause, as in it Robin plays a quiet and melancholic character in a movie that has an air of sadness running right through it.
However, Williams is extremely good in the movie as Nolan, a middle-aged, married man living a dull, grey life with little joy and little to keep him going into his fast encroaching later life. Then he literally bumps into Leo (Roberto Aguire), a young rent boy working on the streets. While Nolan doesn’t want sex, something about the man lights something inside him and he starts to seek out Leo’s company and attempts to help him.
This causes huge conflict in Nolan, as while he increasingly can’t deny that he is gay, he does love his wife. While he hopes that a bit of support, advice and cash can help lead Leo to a new life, he soon discovers that things may be more complicated than that.
There’s little doubt with Boulevard that we’ve seen all this before. An older closeted gay man finding himself attracted to a hustler – both romantically and because he sees in the younger man a reflection of the life they gave up by marrying a woman – is not exactly new. Indeed, plot-wise there is very little here that we haven’t seen before.
Instead the film takes well-worn ideas and plot points and concentrates on doing them well and then attempting to slightly expand on areas that have been somewhat ignored in other movies. For example, in some similar movies the closeted gay man’s wife is presented as a shrew or harridan, and what’s happening to them is seen as irrelevant compared to the man’s journey. However here Nolan’s wife (Kathy Baker) is given space to show that living with a gay man in hiding has affected her, and that if he is ‘true to himself’ (as similar movies often demand), that may be fine for him but what happens to her?
It’s all very well done, with director Dito Montiel creating an air of sadness the permeated the very core of the film. However, there’s a constantly flickering chance of hope which often seems in threat of being extinguished. As mentioned Robin Williams is extremely good as Nolan, supported by a strong performance from Roberto Aguire as a young man who is never sure of the older guy’s intentions, and who the film constantly questions over whether it’s worth Nolan’s time trying to help him. They all work hard to make the most of out the material, but ultimately it is treading fairly old ground.
Overall Verdict: Due to Boulevard covering so much familiar ground it does lessen the overall impact it might have had. It’s a good movie and fittingly shows Williams as a very good actor, but it doesn’t really have enough to raise it above similar tales to make it truly special.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac