This look at the comedian is compassionate and considered, rebuking the "sad clown" cliché that dominated headlines
Very early on in Robin’s Wish, an old friend of Robin Williams debunks, in no uncertain terms, the lazy cliché of the “sad clown” – the notion that the same wit that made Williams such a beloved comedian was the thing that eventually killed him, covering up misery with laughter. It lets you know that Tylor Norwood’s documentary is going to be serious-minded and personal, not interested in salacious details and far more effective for that fact.
There is a brief overview of Williams’s career here, but Norwood’s main focus is on his last days, as a disease called Lewy Body Dementia ravaged his brain. It’s a degenerative and fatal condition, but one that Williams wasn’t diagnosed with before his death, and some wrenching interviews with Williams’s friends, doctors, and wife Susan Schneider help you understand just how terrifying it was to live through the unexplained decline.
These talking heads are a powerful mix of love, warmth, and grief, making a sudden loss felt the world over into something much more personal, even including insights from Williams’s neighbours in his very not-Hollywood community. However, it does often feel like Norwood is stalling for time in between these scenes.
Robin’s Wish runs at only 67 minutes with credits, but feels like it could easily have been cut down to 45. There’s a lot of filler footage here, a lot of it either looking like stock footage or passed through some distractingly ugly filters, with a bunch of unnecessary slow-mo and motion blur.
There’s a careless amateurishness to these moments that is at odds with the affecting sincerity found in the interviews, dampening the final product’s emotional impact. But this is still an important insight into a death that was horribly sensationalised, reclaiming Williams’ story from the tabloids with patience and care.
Robin's Wish is now available on various streaming platforms.Where to watch