Robin’s Wish review: a desperately sad tale of Robin Williams’ last days

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Dir: Tylor Norwood. PG, 77 minutes

Robin Williams’ death by suicide in 2014, at the age of 63, came as a profound shock. How can we reconcile the agile and fiery spirit that adorned our screens with such overwhelming private suffering? But the media needed his story, and they wrote one with incredible vigor – Williams’ legacy would be that of the tragic clown. Over the next several weeks, his history of depression and substance abuse was carefully dissected; theories have been developed about his finances and career prospects.
A new documentary, Robin’s wish, emphasizes an important lesson – that celebrities don’t belong to us. Their lives are not cheap fodder for uplifting tales and romantic tragedies. But the film, directed by Tylor Norwood, chooses not to warn its audiences. He takes the most compassionate path, meticulously documenting Williams’ final months, with the cooperation of his widow, Susan Schneider – a desperately sad task, laden with unresolved heartbreak.
Williams’ autopsy revealed he was in the late stages of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), a neurodegenerative disorder that sweeps across the brain, causing physical and mental deterioration. It is, in any case, both fatal and incurable. Suicide is common among those affected. As Dr. Bruce L. Miller, the most prominent neurological expert interviewed, explains: “It really amazed me that Robin could walk or move at all.”
The cruelest part was that Williams never knew what terrible assailant had claimed his brain. First came a sudden, alien feeling of self-doubt. After that, memory loss, panic attacks, hand tremors, paranoia. Illusions would keep him awake all night. Robin’s wish offers the image of a brilliant spirit at war with itself. A neurologist says the most exceptional brains are often better equipped to resist degenerative diseases. He’s obviously talking about Williams, the supernatural talented improviser who always seemed to be five steps ahead of everyone else. But, as Miller notes, it was the most severe case of Lewy Body Dementia he had ever seen.
 Le film documente méticuleusement les derniers mois de Williams, avec la coopération de sa veuve, Susan Schneider & nbsp; 

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The film meticulously documents Williams’ final months, with the cooperation of his widow, Susan Schneider

(Vertical entertainment)

Williams kept these agonies private, so Norwood instead captures the despair of those he confided in. Schneider is most vulnerable when she describes times when her illness made her doubt their love. A doctor at one point suggested the couple sleep separately. Williams, in a confused state, replied, “Does that mean we’re apart? The actor often bumped into his neighbors. One day he asked one of them for a hug, then started to cry. Shawn Levy, who directed his latest film, Night at the museum: the secret of the tomb, would receive late night phone calls from Williams, who just needed to hear that he had done a good day’s work.
The pain in all their voices is palpable, but Robin’s wish never really extends beyond a small circle of friends and loved ones – her three children are not listed, for example. There are extracts from biography: his training days at the theater school, his recording sessions for Aladdin (when he was at the height of his comic powers), or the shift to dramatic work which resulted in Circle of Missing Poets. But there’s little sense of the depth of Williams’ legacy here, or what the world has lost beyond a husband, friend, and coworker. Maybe this pain is enough.

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