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dir Dito Montiel
scr Douglas Soesbe
prd Monica Aguirre Diez Barroso, Mia Chang, Ryan Belenzon, Jeffrey Gelber
with Robin Williams, Kathy Baker, Roberto Aguire, Bob Odenkirk, Henry Haggard, Giles Matthey, Eleonore Hendricks, Gary Gardner, Crystal Gray, Joshua Decker, Sondra Morton, Jerry Chipman
release US 10.Jul.15, UK 8.Apr.16
Can we talk: Aguire and Williams
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Dark and introspective, this gentle drama tells a moving story with sensitivity and honesty. Without taking a moral or political angle, the film explores issues of sexuality with earthy humanity. It also features Robin Williams in one of his final dramatic roles, a performance of unusual nuance and texture.
At age 60, Nolan (Williams) is settled in his life with his loving wife Joy (Baker) and a bank job that's on the verge of a promotion. But he's been carrying the feeling that something isn't quite right for a very, very long time. And one evening he drives slowly along the curb where young male prostitutes linger, picking up Leo (Aguire) in a moment of panic. Nothing happens, but just being able to talk to this young man awakens something Nolan has buried for most of his life.
From here, Soesbe's clever and subdued script tenderly explores Nolan's marriage to Joy as well as his odd connection with Leo. No one is under any illusions here, but they also don't really talk about what's important, simply because these issues are considered taboo. Nolan's shift is sparked by a turn in the health of his father (Gardner), and he knows that admitting the truth to himself is only the first step. Eventually, the script forces his hand in a series of encounters with Leo's nasty pimp (Matthey).
Williams plays the character beautifully. This is a man who has done the right thing for decades and is only now able to understand what that means. In opening himself emotionally, if not physically, to Leo, he begins to see where his life probably should have gone. And Baker is equally detailed in her responses to him, a woman who has always understood but has never said the words. Odenkirk is also terrific as Nolan's best friend, who knows something is up but never needs to ask.
As the story continues, the depth of meaning becomes seriously powerful. Not only is this a strikingly important story about closeted sexuality, but it echoes with resonance to anyone who has lived their life based on the expectations of society, friends and family rather than being true to personal hopes and yearnings. And director Montiel shows surprising restraint as he portrays even the most difficult encounters, allowing the themes to emerge in the actors' eyes rather than trying to shock the audience. Which makes it the kind of film that lingers.
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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