When Robin Williams died last August, it triggered what felt like a nation-wide period of mourning. The Dissolve staff wrote brief remembrances, many of which mentioned how a certain melancholy always percolated beneath Williams’ comedic mania. It makes sense, then, that some of his most memorable roles were non-comedic: He tapped a deeply personal, yet universally recognizable loneliness in his Oscar-winning role as Matt Damon’s counselor and friend in Good Will Hunting, and again, albeit with a significantly scarier edge, in the supremely chilling slow-burner One Hour Photo. In Bobcat Goldthwait’s 2009 tar-black comedy World's Greatest Dad, Williams plays a father and failed writer whose son accidentally dies during autoerotic asphyxiation, and subsequently pens a fake suicide note to save his son from embarrassment. It appears that Williams’ last on-screen appearance will tap into this side of his personality.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dito Montiel’s Boulevard, which features Williams’ final performance, has been acquired by Starz Digital. The film, written by Douglas Soesbe, depicts a man (Williams) who, after almost 50 years of repression and self-denial, comes to terms with his own homosexuality. He picks up a young gay hustler (Roberto Aguire) off the Nashville streets, but instead of paying for sex, simply asks for the young man’s company. The film premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
For Montiel, Boulevard represents a return to a more emotional, vulnerable style of filmmaking, which he last displayed in the 2006 drama A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints before embarking on an eight-year action-movie detour, which included Empire State and the extremely literal Fighting. For Williams, it marks an apt swan song. Though most writers seemed to slather their Williams obits and In Memory Of-pieces with unadulterated adoration for his bigger, better-known turns, holding him up as some infallible, larger-than-life presence (something our own Nathan Rabin wrote a bit about), it seems somehow appropriate that Williams’ final role would be a quiet, sensitive one instead of a fully manic one, or a sickly sweet sentimental one. Williams’ best roles were forlorn souls who lied to themselves. Boulevard shows a man coming to terms with his self-prolonged lie. As his best friend (Bob Odenkirk) says in the film, it’s never too late to start the life you want.
Starz Digital will open the film in New York and other major markets starting on July 17, 2015.