Every year we lose an unfortunate bunch of Hollywood stars, whose faces and names eventually grace the Oscars’ “In Memoriam” segment. But the recent loss of Robin Williams felt especially devastating, likely because he was an actor who appealed to virtually every demographic. It’s a cruel, bittersweet irony that Williams’s role in “Boulevard,” his final film, is that of a man whose life wasn’t cut short, but salvaged once he found the courage to live his truth.[if !supportEmptyParas]
Williams plays Nolan, a nearly three decade veteran of the banking industry whose humdrum life with wife Joy (Kathy Baker) is weighing on his soul. Like a melancholic twist on the start of “Pretty Woman,” “Boulevard” kicks off with Nolan unwittingly picking up a hustler, Leo (Roberto Aguire), whom Nolan nearly hits with his car. Leo proposes sexual favors immediately, and Nolan is alarmed and intrigued in equal measure.
Though perfectly positioned so as to give Nolan a physical midlife awakening, “Boulevard” is a sexless exploration of sexual discovery, wherein a long-closeted gay man is finally given the impetus to confront his true self. Interestingly, the movie offers the implication that, had Nolan never met Leo (for whom he develops a paternal bond most of all), he may never have come to terms with his unspoken inner turmoil. And yet, once finally face to face with his nature, he can’t turn away from it.
True to form, Williams is natural and brilliant in his embodiment of Nolan’s mix of fear and fascination, and he grounds a story that dares to champion the notion of not settling on an unhappy life for the sake of tradition. It’s also a symbiotic dance of an indie: For every misdeed and broken law with which Nolan assists Leo, Leo inspires Nolan to remember, yet again, to be himself. The film’s director, Dito Montiel (“A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”), has historically operated on gritty terrain. Here, he visualizes a gentle story of one man’s sad, yet freeing and essential, rebirth. “Boulevard” makes fresh use of the cliché that it’s never too late.
Opens tomorrow at the Ritz at the Bourse
[if !supportEmptyParas] [endif]With a cast led by rising starlet Maika Monroe, “It Follows,” directed by David Robert Mitchell, is one of the most celebrated horror films in years, bringing prestige and acclaim to a genre that’s often considered a just-for-kicks arena. After a fateful sexual encounter, Jay (Monroe), is haunted by visions and the sense she’s being stalked, and as the tension mounts, “It Follows” proclaims itself 2015’s thriller to beat.
Contact the South Philly Review at email@example.com.