Robin’s Wish: Film Review

Robin Williams

There have been a few celebrity deaths that have upset me more than they reasonably should, considering I don’t know the person in real life, and a prime example is Robin Williams. The shock news of his death in August 2014 made me so sad that I had tears in my eyes writing about it at work.

For weeks after he died, the media widely reported (or should I say misreported) his death via suicide stemmed from his history of depression and addiction issues, when he was, in fact, sober at the time and unaware he was battling a degenerative disease – Lewy body dementia (LBD) – a diagnosis only discovered in the coroner’s report.

His widow Susan Schneider Williams has been raising awareness about LBD ever since her husband died and has teamed up with director Tylor Norwood to address the misunderstandings around Williams’ death, his experience with LBD from 2013 until he died, and him being misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The documentary features scientists explaining the disease, friends recalling fun moments with him as well as memories of his deteriorating health, and co-workers on his last projects.

The result is a profoundly moving and poignant documentary about one of Hollywood’s great comedians and actors, with my personal childhood favourites being Jumanji, Aladdin, Flubber, and Hook. It’ll be more affecting if you’re a fan of his work (I obviously shed some tears!) but even if you’re not, I’ll be impressed if you don’t feel something hearing his close friends and co-workers talking about how this quick-witted, loud and confident man became paranoid, anxious, filled with self-doubt, suffered from delusions, hallucinations, and insomnia, and kept trying to get to the bottom of what was wrong with his mind as he wasn’t satisfied with the Parkinson’s diagnosis.

The most affecting testimony for me came from Shawn Levy, who directed Williams in the Night at the Museum franchise, with the third being filmed in early 2014 and released later that year, months after he passed. Speaking publicly about this for the first time, Levy recalled how different Williams was on the last film; how he had lost his confidence and morale, struggled with lines, and told him “I’m not myself anymore”. David E. Kelley, the creator of TV sitcom The Crazy Ones, echoed this and also spoke about Williams having to hide a tremoring hand in his pocket. Schneider Williams anchors the whole piece together and provides poignant personal insight into his condition, as do close friends and his neighbours in Marin County.

I found this documentary to be really eye-opening – I had no idea what was going on in Williams’ life in the months leading up to his death – and incredibly sad. If you are fan, this is a must-watch.

Out now on Digital and On Demand on all major platforms. For more information please go to https://www.robinswishfilm.com/

Rating: 4 out of 5.