It only takes a quick scan of Robin Williams’ filmography to see how unusual his movie career really was. He cashed in his Mork-fame with Robert Altman’s fantastically weird Popeye and a winning lead role in a literary fantasia, The World According to Garp. Every time he scored huge with pure comedy, à la Mrs. Doubtfire, he quickly turned to melancholy parts that suggested an urge to save the world. (He and his Awakenings co-star Robert De Niro have the same clenched, uptight body language when they move across the screen.) And the past 15 years are riddled with creepy, depressed little indies in which he played throttled men who were sometimes quietly desperate, sometimes malevolent: One Hour Photo, The Final Cut, The Night Listener, and World’s Greatest Dad. Never widely distributed, these strange portraits emphasized what was tightly wrapped and uneasy about Williams—something that was always there, even in his big successes.
Boulevard, completed the year before Williams’ suicide, is one of those portraits.