Review by Sean Boelman
One would be hard-pressed to find a celebrity death that affected such a wide range of generations as that of Robin Williams, who was (and still is) an icon for fans young and old. Offering a different side to the story of the time leading up to the actor’s passing, the documentary Robin’s Wish hopes that it will help people so that they don’t have to suffer in the same way.
In the film, people who knew and were close to Robin Williams reflect on the actor’s life and how he brought joy to them and others before he began to suffer from Lewy body dementia, ultimately leading him to take his own life. The movie captures really well the feelings that many likely have about Williams’ passing, both celebrating the tremendous body of work he left behind and mourning the talent that was lost.
This really is a fitting tribute to its subject, as it effectively captures a lot of what made him so beloved in the first place. By allowing those who were close to him to relive their anecdotes and memories of him, the film really shows how Williams was able to touch so many people through his actions and his work.
And those contributions still keep going today, even with this documentary. The movie’s title purports that Williams would have wanted his death to mean something, and by bringing greater awareness to the disease which ailed him in his later years, maybe someone else can get the help they need.
The film features a great deal of interviewees, from medical experts discussing the dangers of Lewy body dementia to directors who worked with Williams or his family members, and everyone adds their own piece of the story. It’s a pretty comprehensive look at how Williams was a light in the life of everyone around him.
Of course, it’s a heartbreaking story, especially if one is among the people who grew up watching Williams’s work. And it’s sad to think that, with the right medical assistance, he still could have been with us today. But this documentary is also hopeful in that it really focuses on how one person can have such a positive impact on the world.
In terms of execution, the movie is pretty traditional, but the story is so effective on its own that it doesn’t need to resort to flashier elements to have an impact. There is a lot of power in watching these people talk about their memories of Williams, and filmmaker Tylor Norwood recognizes this, often taking time to linger on their emotions.
Robin’s Wish uses its subject to talk about an issue that isn’t as well-known as it probably should be. Offering both a heartfelt eulogy and scientific information, this feels, as the title suggests, very much like what the beloved star would have wanted.
Robin’s Wish hits VOD on September 1.