Given the all-too recent death of its leading man it’s impossible not to watch The Angriest Man In Brooklyn with a tear in the eye. In fact so close to the bone is some of the material on offer here that a disclaimer at the start of the film warns that it “contains scenes some viewers may find disturbing”. That’s not to imply that there is any kind of gore or a specifically shocking scene but rather the tone and, given how Robin Williams tragically died, a foreshadowing of something altogether more emotional.
Already having a bad day and generally furious at the world Henry Altmann (Robin Williams) is told by his emotionally stressed substitute doctor Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis) that he has a brain aneurism. Demanding to know how long he has left Sharon blurts out that he has ninety-minutes. Desperate to right the wrongs of his recent life and die without regret Henry runs around New York trying to appease his brother Aaron (Peter Dinklage) make love to his wife (Melissa Leo) and most importantly make peace with his estranged son Tommy (Hamish Linklater).
Those hoping to see a typical Robin Williams film will be sorely let down by The Angriest Man In Brooklyn. He’s not on his Good Will Hunting, Mrs. Doubtfire or Dead Poets Society cuddly best. Instead he is the Angriest Man in Brooklyn, a shouting, swearing ball of rage which given even a small dose of radiation would no doubt see him morph into the Incredible Hulk.
And it’s because of this that the film manages a bitter-sweet moment. Because as Henry’s son Tommy puts it, “He was so big and loud and fun… he used to be so affectionate, like a major hugger”. It’s not intentional and in many ways the film would fail if it weren’t for William’s death but as it stands it acts as an almost eulogy to one of cinema, TV and stage’s most iconic funny men.
The bitterness comes from seeing Williams angry. That he is no longer with us makes it sad to not see that bubbly, leaping personality who so often filled the screen you wondered if it would contain him. But the sweetness comes from seeing his character so desperately saddened by the world he lives in slowly make his peace with it.
Few of the supporting characters get enough time to really leave a mark but Peter Dinklage demonstrates once again what a hugely endearing screen presence he is as the calm and collected brother to Henry. Kunis meanwhile is typically doe eyed and warm as neurotic Sharon. It’s not small task to try and keep up with Williams but she does so and the film is at its strongest when the pair team up for the final act and form a strangely emotive comedy duo.
The Angriest Man In Brooklyn just about passes muster as a tragic comedy but, and the irony will certainly not be lost on the man himself, as a fond and tearful farewell to Robin Williams there is something strangely haunting and cathartic about it.