Robin’s Wish is nothing revolutionary in terms of documentary filmmaking. It has a simple nature to it in a cinematic sense, with basic talking heads and B-roll occupying much of the movie’s frames, but where the film finds its strength is in its unyielding heart. But that’s to be expected when you have a subject like Robin Williams.

For some, Williams was a part of their lives before they even saw his face, all thanks to his vibrant voice performance as Genie in Aladdin. Even from his voice alone, Williams had an exuberance about him that was new and has never been quite matched since. He possessed a uniqueness and a warmth that is simply undeniable. When Robin sang “You ain’t never had a friend like me,” we believed it. Because, for people my age, at that time, we truly had never had a friend like Genie.

But Williams was, of course, far more than a voice. He was a loving husband, a loyal friend and an all-around wonderful human being. He was someone who chose to live in a small suburban community rather than a gated LA complex. He preferred to have neighbors he could talk to while walking his dog; people he could relate to and talk to and get to know a little better. He was a consummate professional, a deft improvisational artist and a caring soul, as made evident by so many interviews and archival footage within Robin’s Wish. It’s all so clear in the end… people absolutely adored Robin Williams.

And this is true for fans and loved ones alike, which is why this documentary is such a painful watch at times. I spent much of the movie with a lump in my throat and a mist in my eyes, as it teeters back and forth between Robin’s career and the final year of his life. The film’s primary focus is building awareness for Lewy body dementia, a crippling, fatal disease that had seized Williams’ mind and body and led him to end his own life.

In this aspect, it succeeds momentously. This is an important film that shines a light on an illness that’s often hidden. Not only Lewy body dementia, but mental health in general. If anything, Robin’s Wish is a work that could hopefully eliminate the notions people have about suicide, especially in regard to calling it a selfish act. Watch this film, and you’ll quickly understand that there was absolute selflessness in Robin’s decision.

It’s all so heartbreaking, yet Robin’s Wish finds a good balance between bringing laughs and tears alike. The film is such an intimate work that profiles such an impenetrable spirit that it’s hard not to fall under its spell of emotional recollection. In essence, it’s people telling stories about a man who hugely impacted their lives. At the center of it all is Susan Schneider, Robin’s widow, who gives the film a strong core of visceral feeling. Try not to get choked up when she refers to Robin as “my honey.” She truly loved him. We all did.

And he loved us, as evident by his titular desire: “To make people less afraid.” If seeing that wish in Robin’s handwriting doesn’t open up the floodgates, you must have one hell of a dam built up. If you’re searching for a work that attempts to profile the beautiful life of a marvelous soul and succeeds, despite the pedestrian nature of its cinematic construction, Robin’s Wish is the ideal fit.

It's all so heartbreaking, yet Robin's Wish finds a good balance between bringing laughs and tears alike.
78 %
Tears and Laughs Alike
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