While not the last film he shot, Boulevard has the sad distinction of being the late Robin Williams' final on-screen role, arriving just over 18 months after the actor’s death. He plays Nolan, a married bank employee whose existence has become a simple, sad matter of plodding through the days, going through the motions and hiding his sexuality from his wife and his friends. However, an emotional affair with a young male prostitute named Leo threatens to derail his entire life.
The story is frustratingly straight-forward and its message rather fuzzy, making no real comment on society or sexuality beyond it being tough to be in the closet. But while the material is thin, it’s what’s between the lines that makes Williams’ performance so engrossing. Portraying his character as achingly sad, he looks at Leo like a schoolgirl with a crush and is seemingly oblivious to where it will all inevitably head.
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Restrained from beginning to end, Williams adds a depth to a film that almost doesn’t deserve it, with a scene between Nolan and his ailing father being a heart-breaking highlight. Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) puts in an interesting but underdeveloped performance as Nolan’s pretentious best friend, while Roberto Aguire never quite holds pace with his co-star as the troubled Leo.
While far from his best work, Boulevard nonetheless showcases what an understated, powerful actor Williams was. It’s a muted but in many ways fitting tribute.