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Boulevard

Year: 2014
Production Co: Camellia Entertainment
Director: Dito Montiel
Writer: Douglas Soesbe
Cast: Robin Williams, Kathy Baker, Robert Aguiure, Bob Odenkirk

Robin Williams' last appearance on screen is a sombre, sad affair, and not just because it's his last live action dramatic role before his suicide last year.

He plays mild mannered banker Nolan, who has a nice home, an amicable marriage to wife joy (Kathy Baker) and no real complaints. He's the guy you don't notice in a crowd because of how quiet and unassuming he is, and he's made peace with it.

But Nolan has been denying his homosexuality since he was a boy, and at nearly 60 he's still keeping up a pretense that must be exhausting.

One night while driving past a street corner that's a notorious hangout for hookers and rent boys he sees Leo (Roberto Aguire) and falls head over heels for the younger man. Rather than take him to dingy hotel rooms and use him up, Nolan feels a sense of protection and investment – especially with Leo's fearsome pimp hovering nearby ready to extort, beat up and possibly kill anyone who crosses him at any moment.

Nolan takes Leo out to dinner, nurses him back to health when Leo's pimp unleashes his wrath (and gets a black eye himself in the process) and buys him a phone so they can stay in touch discreetly.

But as Leo becomes more of an addiction – that the younger man frankly doesn't deserve – Nolan has an increasingly hard time holding the rest of his life together trying to explain long absences at night and late arrivals at work.

It sounds obvious to say Boulevard is a grown-up story because of the subject matter of a closeted gay man, but when the inevitable happens the biggest surprise is Nolan's wife Joy. In a film with a far less realistic or mature outlook, we'd be expected to believe a woman has no idea her husband has secret desires after decades of marriage.

Joy isn't an idiot, and she eventually knows that she – like Nolan himself – has to face and accept the truth. It comes during a scene that tones down the high emotion and is only the more painful for it.

The ending is better than you hope for, but in the context of Williams' life and career it only makes the movie itself sadder – Williams himself never got the kind of deliverance from suffering Nolan does, and Boulevard is a simple but rich reminder that he was sometimes one of the best dramatic actors we had as well as a comic genius.

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