The late Robin Williams received the ultimate career validation when he won the Oscar for Good Will Hunting, but he reserved his most vulnerable performance for this Death in Venice–inspired character study from Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints).
Williams’s Nashville strip-mall loan officer Nolan shares a home with Joy (Kathy Baker, who matches the actor measure for measure), except they sleep in separate rooms. Though a branch manager position has just opened up, Nolan stubbornly clings to the status quo, unlike his more adventurous friend, Winston (Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk), who has recently returned from a trip to Alaska.
One night, on the way home from work, Nolan strikes up a conversation with Leo (Roberto Aguire, who recalls Outsiders-era Ralph Macchio), a young hustler, and becomes fixated. Is he looking for sex, companionship, or a surrogate son? Montiel takes his time answering that question.
In due course, a tentative friendship ensues until outside forces complicate matters. Though the director paints Nolan as a sympathetic figure, his control-freak tendencies can be off-putting, but he’s a stunted man who’s never been true to himself. If it’s difficult to watch him stumble through this awkward relationship, Williams’s dedication to Nolan’s late-in-life awakening makes it worth the effort.