Few comedic actors have endured the test of time like Oscar-winner Robin Williams, leaving behind a lasting legacy of laughs after his shocking death in 2014. The latest documentary Robin’s Wish takes an intimate look at his storied career, offering a warmly-drawn tribute that packs a gentle emotional punch.
Robin’s Wish takes a detailed look at Robin Williams’ final years of life. Told from the viewpoint of friends, family, and medical experts, the film analyzes how his undiagnosed Lewy Body Dementia altered the actor’s lifestyle, while also reflecting on his sizable impact.
Drawing from the wide-eyed affability of its titular subject, Robin’s Wish revels in the actor’s distinct ability to brighten the world around him. Director Tylor Norwood adoring viewpoint feels justified in its eschewing of the tabloid-fodder headlines that dictated the star’s image, taking a detailed look at his taxing battle with a misunderstood disease. It’s an emotional journey through the star’s immense struggles, one the imbues a greater appreciation for the effervescent actor’s ability to glow even under dire circumstances.
The melody of interviewed subjects aptly work to connect the puzzle pieces of his life, sharing emotionally-charged memoirs that depict an endlessly kind spirit who always put everyone before himself (stories of his experiences with military veterans were especially touching). Some may criticize the documentary for an overly-tender approach, yet the sentimentality is conveyed with enough sincerity and nuance to leave a positive impact.
Robin’s Wish will certainly move most, but its craftsmanship leaves something to be desired. Norwood’s structure lacks grace, with his film often dancing between time periods without a cohesive fact-based narrative. I think the film also missed a huge opportunity to examine the conditions of celebrity culture, where fictionalized narratives about a figure’s life often dominate headlines over truthful reveals (a doc like Amy more pertinently examined the judgemental sentiments of media outlets).
Robin’s Wish leans upon its subject’s beloved image to construct a heartfelt tribute to Robin Williams.
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