Today: February 29, 2024

Boulevard

Nolan Mack (Robin Williams) is an average man in his 50s, who seemingly has his life figured out. His wife, Joy (Kathy Baker), is pleasant and the couple have safe and secure jobs.

We enter Boulevard on the cusp of transition for Nolan. His father is bed-bound in hospital, igniting Nolan to confront the skeletons in his closet, which have been supressed since adolescence.

The aforementioned skeleton is Nolan’s homosexuality.

A trip back from the hospital, and Nolan cruises along the titular ‘boulevard’ and chooses to pick up a male prostitute, Leo (Roberto Aguire), with whom he becomes instantly besotted. Leo is a troubled but likeable rogue in the film, who develops a tumultuous and genuine relationship with Nolan.

Boulevard is beautifully emotive and approaches homosexuality in a way that is rarely seen in cinema – applying the attached stigma and prejudice of being gay to the older generation and exploring the impact this has in a domestic setting. Director Dito Montiel forces the audience to be a neutral observer, feeling sympathy for Nolan and an understanding of his long repression, while feeling a deep sadness for Joy who naturally wants a supportive husband to sleep in the same bed as her.

The film develops as Nolan’s relationship with Leo intensifies, and Joy becomes increasingly suspicious about her husband’s peculiar behaviour. The audience sees the domestic dynamic evolve between the couple which is particularly interesting.

An extra note, there are no scenes of explicit sexuality in this film, which is so refreshing to see when a film’s premise orientates around homosexuality. It is a mature film that acts as a platform for Williams’ intense emotion and lustfulness, which he displays so genuinely. Williams’ acting is simply superb.

The obvious factor that will, quite rightly, overshadow the film is the fact that this was one of the last of Robin Williams’ acting roles before he committed suicide in 2014. The sense of a worried, split life that Williams displays here makes you question the parallels between Nolan and Williams in real life at the time the film was being made.

His stellar performance coupled with the serendipitous script and plot does nothing but intensify the emotion in Boulevard, it’s a must-see for all Williams’ fans.

 

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