Directed by Tylor Norwood, “Robin’s Wish” takes an intimate look at the last days of actor and comedian Robin Williams. When I became aware of this film, I immediately wanted to see it, even though subconsciously I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do so. There have been very few celebrity deaths that have affected me, and the passing of Robin Williams was one of them. This documentary gives us a personal look into his life up to the day he passed away. Interviews with his wife, neighbors, close friends, doctors and people he worked alongside give us a window into Robin’s life — Robin, the man and ordinary person.
The documentary opens three months after his autopsy was conducted, when Robin’s wife, Susan, received the shocking results. Robin Williams suffered from Diffuse Lewy Body Dementia (DLBD), a neurodegenerative disease. DLBD is devastating because it progresses quickly; some of its characteristic signs and symptoms are anxiety, depression, insomnia and hallucinations. The documentary delves into Robin’s career and offers an in-depth look to a side audiences never had a chance to see, from his ability to improvise as an entertainer at his peak to the deteriorating effects of the disease that caused memory loss and lack of confidence.
The subject matter is thought-provoking, leaving the viewers to dwell on the idea that this disease can happen to anyone and doesn’t discriminate. This film could have easily been sensationalized, but it brings awareness to DLBD. It’s a condition often misdiagnosed and usually leads to the worst outcomes, including suicide. Robin’s closest friends and neighbors struggle with the idea of what it must have been to experience this drastic change progressively.
Robin was known for having a special connection with war veterans. He sympathized with those who returned with injuries. The countless visits he made to individual soldiers is a small lens of who he was and, on rare occasions, he’d admit sympathizing with these soldiers because he related to their mental instability. Another activity he’d be involved in during his free time is participating in local gatherings to entertain and be surrounded by people. So it was unfortunate to hear his friends and family testify that the first sign of his serious condition was Robin not wanting to be involved in gatherings nor wanting to continue his visits.
“Robin’s Wish” also functions as a response to the media speculation about the actor’s last days. Many outlets falsely reported that the cause of death was depression, and there were even accusations of domestic violence toward him. Knowing there’s not a happy ending to this story, I felt anxious as the events leading up to his death started unfolding. The last 15 minutes are tough to watch for various reasons. It’s painful to relive the day Robin Williams died. All the emotions resurface, and to think this occurred six years ago is unbelievable. We learn how his close friends and family became aware of his passing, plus their initial reactions. We’re once again reminded of the tremendous loss we as his fans suffered, but we also witness the tragic loss his family and friends experienced.
Overall, “Robin’s Wish” is a documentary with a subject matter that is bound to resurface the sense of loss while informing how this disease took one of our most beloved entertainers.
“Robin’s Wish” will be available on Video on Demand September 1.
Featured image credit: Vertical Entertainment
Rosa is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic who’s passionate about advocating for Latinx and female representation. She’s the co-founder and co-host of the podcast Latinx Lens, which is focused on representation and contribution of the Latinx community in Television and Film industry. She’s the assistant editor of ITOL (In Their Own League), a site and podcast dedicated to highlight women in the industry. She’s proud member of HCA (Hollywood Critics Association), LEJA (Latino Entertainment Journalists Association), OAFFC (Online Association of Female Film Critics). She’s a coffee addict that unapologetically loves pineapple on her pizza.