Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

The news of a celebrity’s untimely death always lends his or her unreleased work new meaning. We pry outstanding projects for evidence of instability, seeking clues so we can chastise ourselves for not pinpointing signs of deterioration, or perhaps for ignoring them when we do. That phenomenon — along with the general toll that fame can take — is examined in documentaries released this year about Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, but the more recent death of Robin Williams still has us searching for something to explain his absence.

We won’t find those answers in “Boulevard,” the final live-action role of his career, but the indie drama does take on new meaning in light of what we know about Williams’ suicide. Opening in limited release on Friday, “Boulevard” is the story of Nolan Mack, a closeted 60-year-old who’s held the same humdrum bank job for 26 years. He and his longtime wife (Kathy Baker) sleep in separate bedrooms. They share a certain love but little intimacy outside of discussing literature and watching TV together. Williams plays Nolan as impossibly sad, with a timid affect and heartbreaking complacency. But Nolan comes alive, to a degree, after nervously picking up Leo (Roberto Aguire), a troubled gay hustler who approaches his car one night. To Leo’s befuddlement, Nolan doesn’t want sex. They go to a motel where Nolan pays handsomely just to look at him shirtless and converse. Nolan’s repressed sexuality is awakened and he becomes hooked on Leo, concocting lies for his wife so he can share the young man’s company and assist with his finances.

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