Saturday, August 29, 2015

On Blu-ray/DVD: Soesbe/Montiel's BOULEVARD --one of Robin Williams' final, if not finest, roles


TrustMovies has been a big fan of filmmaker Dito Montiel ever since his Guide to Recognizing Your Saints appeared. After some hit-and-miss work over the years (most of which I've enjoyed), he is back again, directing Robin Williams in one of his final roles in BOULEVARD, from a screenplay by Douglas Soesbe. The movie proves a serious attempt to explore the life of a quiet, closeted, married-for-years-to-a-good-woman, gay man about to experience something that will lead to big change.

So far, so good. And Williams, who just about never gave a bad performance unless he was forced into it, is once again in fine form as a man who has kept a deep and important part of himself a secret from not just the rest of the world but from himself. What's missing -- and I hate to say it since Montiel (pictured at right) made his mark with an uber-stylish independent movie -- is the kind of style that might elevate this film above the level of a well-intentioned try at consciousness-raising on both sides of the camera.

Boulevard is a quiet film which in itself is nothing bad. But it is quiet in so many ways -- from a script featuring dialog that is true-to-life but also bland enough to have us in sleep mode to direction that accentuates the script's limitations by refusing to goose any scene out of exactly what we expect -- that the movie finally has barely come to life before it's over.

None of this is the fault of the actors, who to a man and woman stay in keeping with the quiet tone. In addition to Williams the fine cast includes Kathy Baker (above, right) as his put-upon wife, Roberto Aguire (below, left) as the young man who throws the monkey wrench into his life, and Bob Odenkirk as his funny best friend. They help make this movie, which you'll very much wish were better than it is, a passable viewing.

Boulevard, from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Starz Digital hits the street this coming Tuesday, September 1, available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD -- for rental and/or purchase.

2 comments:

Douglas Soesbe said...

I'm Douglas Soesbe, the writer of Boulevard, and I maintain that the subtlety here and the "bland" dialogue was intended to create something that felt real and lacking artifice. Sorry it didn't work for you.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for posting, Douglas. You're right: It didn't work for me (as it evidently did for Rex Reed), but I do understand and appreciate what you were going for. I wish it had worked for me, as I always prefer to enjoy rather than not. And your dialog did feel real and not artificial. But for me, that wasn't enough to bring the movie home. But again, I appreciate your commmenting -- which has made me think once more about my own standards and prejudices.