Boulevard Blu-ray Review

Robin Williams is magnificent in one of his final roles

Boulevard depicts inner turmoil. It is appropriately difficult to watch. The visible torment on Robin Williams’ face is both a sign of raw performance and now, after his death, a matter of significant consequence.

Marketing hides Boulevard’s thematic weight. It merely insinuates. Nolan Mack, a married 60-something, finally acts on his feelings – he’s gay. Box art and any studio synopsis avoid the term as if it they were dodging or afraid. Maybe marketing and the narrative are as one, tied into Boulevard’s story.

Mack is terrified. He’s cheating on a wife he adores – a wife he has shared a life with for countless years – and it’s with a drug addicted, streetside male prostitute. It’s a personality chasm between Mack’s suit-and-tie banker and this struggling young man. The pair connect, at least they seem to. Williams is comfortable with co-star Robertro Aguire on screen; they even appear natural when together once past the shared awkwardness.

Few dramas under 90-minutes have the strength of character Boulevard does.

The film is never explicit, merely suggestive. It suits the drama. Never is there a release from Williams’ usual levity either. Outside of script conveniences, Boulevard is a dense, well packed together, and cautious film. Few dramas under 90-minutes have the strength of character Boulevard does. Much of that is on Williams who is able to rapidly establish the film’s core. Another assist is the gorgeously shadowed cinematography which never reduces itself from a veil of darkness.

Boulevard is frequently unspoken. Scenes drift by, sometimes accompanied by soft scoring, but mostly lingering on self-reflection. Characters dodge their circumstances in avoidance of a shared truth. Cinematography is beautiful enough to let Williams work, even if aimlessly driving or staring. This was hardly the actor’s lone dramatic role, but it may be his strongest. It draws a wholly convincing character – nuanced, terrified, but underneath, happy his lie is finally ending even if it must happen violently.

All of the events are based on randomness. Mack drives down the wrong road and through sheer chance, collides with Leo (Aguire), a man who will change his entire life’s direction. The theme is poignant, even important. Mack is gay by random chance. He hits a future lover by chance. And, by chance, he risks everything to be himself, to be who he always was or wanted to be. It’s a brave film, uplifting in the climax flowing with inspiring positivity even if it needs to be crushingly honest to reach that point.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

Tense moment @ 1:19:30

While Boulevard is obsessed with warmth, imagery is typically defined without fault. However, it’s a matter of getting past the flesh tones which seem to be burned. The backgrounds lit by orange bulbs. The streets which only have orange lights. Warm, orange, warm, orange. That’s the digital grading of Boulevard.

Past that, Boulevard is wonderful to look at. Shadows are used exquisitely. Images pop better than most 3D. Black levels are stunning in their depth and flawless in their consistency, impressive considering much of the film is muted. Contrast rarely reaches any peak. It’s all up to the shadows.

Resolution comes in with the assist, producing moment after moment of fidelity. Close-ups are never less than on point. Pores, hairs; they’re flawlessly resolved. Medium shots lose nothing. Outside of the clarity, little indicates this was captured digitally instead of on film. The technology’s progress is on full display.

Video ★★★★☆ 

Not much happens sonically. Ambiance is most of the piece. Street level work – cars passing around characters – is the main focus on the design. Surrounds are ignored.

Dialog sticks to the center. There’s no need for audio trickery here anyway. A few moments in the score will drop into the low-end, but it is not substantial. The TrueHD work is well balanced and for a drama, that’s critical.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

There are no extras on the disc. It would have been nice to hear from some of those who worked with Williams late in his life.

Extras ☆☆☆☆☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.