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A man who has been keeping one important fact about himself for over 40 years slowly comes to accept he cannot live a lie anymore.
Characters & Story
For many years Nolan (Robin Williams) has lived a quiet and quaint life with his wife Joy (Kathy Baker). She teaches, and he works in a bank, and while they have no kids, and sleep in separate beds, they both seem satisfied. That is until Nolan almost hits a boy named Leo (Roberto Aguire) with his car and this leads to him becoming close to him. To the point where what begins as him doting on him becomes a desire which goes beyond just trying to help a stranger. Leading to the discovery that Nolan has been holding something back from himself for quite a few decades.
When it comes to Robin Williams, his best work has arguably always been his dramatic pieces. For while he is well known for being a comedian, and roles like Mrs. Doubtfire made him a star, it is when he is truly trying to explore a character, and allows his vulnerability to show, that he becomes an actor worth taking notice of. Something he does quite well here with Nolan for while he doesn’t deliver the best performance of his lifetime, he taps into the sadness which comes from a life unfulfilled. For with Nolan doing what was expected, and socially right at the time, you can see why he has taken so many safe decisions, been so distant, and pretty much has more so existed than lived.
And while I won’t say Aguire, as Leo, is the ideal wake-up call, since he isn’t capable of helping Nolan fully get adjusted to who he is, it is hard to not want to praise his part as a supporting character. Mostly due to you sort of feeling as bad for him as Nolan does. After all, Leo is in your generic position of being a young and isolated sex worker with a violent, and almost comically villainous, pimp. But with Williams as Nolan, a sense of realness, as if he is truly trying to save someone from themselves, and those they associate with, comes forth in such a way which makes the loss of Williams as an actor create such a somber tone.
A part of me feels like the film should have gone further when it comes to Nolan and Joy’s relationship, a la Masters of Sex, in terms of us understanding how, despite knowing all this time, why Joy is with Nolan. For they don’t seem to have the type of friendship which makes a sex-less marriage worth it, and with them basically being housemates, outside of the fear of dying alone, I was left questioning why she stuck around so long.
Then, when it comes to the Leo situation, as much as it is understood that Leo isn’t someone Nolan looks at lustfully, but more so as a means of exploring love and affection with another man, it would have been nice if we did ultimately get to see the two be happy. Be it together, or fully with other people. For while it is hinted Nolan likely has a happy ending, sadly Leo disappears and we aren’t really given a final word on him.
Overall: TV Viewing
While Williams shines, unfortunately, his co-stars aren’t given enough material to make it so the movie as a whole is good. For with Joy never getting to fully express the frustrations of committing to a life with a closeted man, and Leo not necessarily being the best character out there to help a 60-year-old closeted man come to terms with his sexuality, much less experience the intimate side of it, versus the sexual, it does seem a lot of avenues which could have, and likely should have, been explored are ignored. Leaving Williams presenting a strong argument to care about his character, but not necessarily the people in his life, or what his character is going through.