NEW YORK (Reuters) - A random drive down an unfamiliar road and a chance encounter with a stranger force a soft-spoken bank employee to reassess his life and acknowledge his true self in the new indie drama “Boulevard,” starring Oscar winner Robin Williams.
Williams, 62, most familiar to audiences as a sharp-witted, fast-talking comedian, shows his darker, more intense side in “Boulevard,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival that runs through April 27.
The four-time Academy Award nominee, who took home the best supporting actor prize in 1998 for “Good Will Hunting,” plays a 60-year-old, meek loan officer comfortably attuned to his life and marriage until he meets a young man who reawakens his inner conflict.
“He is an older man, long married, who essentially comes out of the closet at an age when most couples have settled into the tedium of a kind of combative relationship,” said Geoffrey Gilmore, Tribeca Film Festival’s chief creative officer.
Williams’ character, Nolan Mack, must choose between hiding the secret he has suppressed for decades and continuing his life with a woman he loves and respects, or dealing with it and upending the only life he has ever known.
Although the film focuses on a gay man, director Dito Montiel, who picked up awards at the Sundance and Venice Film Festival in 2006 for his coming-of-age drama, “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” said it is a story about a life and a relationship.
“For me it was about letting go and holding on, the weird push and pulls of life, when it comes to anything from a job to a relationship - the thin line,” the New York director explained. “It didn’t matter all that much that he was gay.”
Montiel thought Williams was perfect to play the repressed Nolan because the actor had no way to release his natural energy in the character he portrayed.
“No matter what Robin Williams wants to do, he is forced to be trapped,” Montiel said. “With Robin, his silence is deafening. I thought how fun would it be to see him when he can’t do any of that stuff.”
Film, stage and television actress Kathy Baker, a Golden Globe winner in 1994 for her role in the TV series “Picket Fences,” is Nolan’s devoted wife, Joy. Despite everything she suspects and discovers about her husband, she wants to keep her marriage and life with him intact.
Roberto Aguire (“Struck by Lightning”) plays Leo, a young prostitute who triggers the changes in Nolan’s life and the realization that he can no longer deny his sexuality.
Emmy-winning writer and actor Bob Odenkirk (“Nebraska”) is his friend Winston, who is confused by Nolan’s actions and struggles to understand what is happening.
“It was a study on a relationship and life,” Montiel said about his fifth feature film that he shot in Nashville.
“Everyone can relate in some way, whether it is a job that you wished you got out of, or a boyfriend or a girlfriend or a wife or a husband or a parent that you can’t let go of,” he added.
Editing by Eric Kelsey and Marguerita Choy