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“Robin’s Wish” Looks Tenderly At The Comedian’s Final Days And The Illness That Claimed His Life


The death of Robin Williams hit everyone hard. It just did. While the initial reports about his passing spoke about depression or a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, it wasn’t until a time later that any details about the actual problem surfaced. That would be Lewy Body Dementia, a cruel disorder that absolutely ravages an individual. The struggle that Williams went though, as well as what this illness is actually like, makes up the new documentary Robin’s Wish. Opening on Tuesday, it’s a sometimes difficult experience, but one that presents a new way to understand the untimely conclusion of an absolutely extraordinary life.

This documentary is a look at not just actor and comedian Robin Williams in his final days, but also at the illness his family and friends only learned he suffered from after his passing. The would be a horrible neurodegenerative disorder known as Lewy Body Dementia. Specifically, the doc looks at what his mind was fighting against over a period of time, as the disorder absolutely cripples you. Experts in the neurological field speak about how the more intelligent and mental sharp a person is, the better they are at dealing with degeneration, which speaks to the type of genius he was. At the same time, his wife Susan talks about both how he was prior to the condition beginning, as well as what happened as it took its toll on him. Ultimately, it seeks to not just let you understand Lewy Body Dementia, but also to appreciate Williams in a whole new manner. Tylor Norwood directs a screenplay he penned with Scott Fitzloff (Norwood also handles the cinematography, while Fitzloff edits). The score is by Aaron Drake.

There’s a profound sadness that layers the film from start to finish, but thankfully there are moments of joy peppered in. Filmmaker Tylor Norwood, along with his co-writer Scott Fitzloff, are smart to not focus on Williams’ death, with very little time spent on the day where he took his life. Instead, the focus is on his brilliance, as well as the devastating nature of his disease. It’s heart-wrenching to see the way that the neurodegenerative disorder Lewy Body Dementia takes such a toll on an individual. That’s where this doc manages to succeed, as it gives you a better understanding of it, as well as what he went through.

Robin’s Wish will be too emotionally taxing for some. The movie may well make you cry at multiple points. There’s just no way around hitting some emotional beats when talking about the end of Williams’ life, even when his career is clearly being paid tribute to. Seeing his friends and family talk about him is moving, while there’s a fascinating bit of insight into his struggle when professional collaborators like David E. Kelley and Shawn Levy detail how hard it became for Williams on set. These are private moments never before shared, and while it could have seemed exploitative, it actually seems generous, explaining the devastating amount of degeneration that Williams was going through, as well as the stunning nature of what he was still able to accomplish.

On Tuesday, fans of Robin Williams may get a bit more understanding about his fatal illness when Robin’s Wish opens. If you can handle it, the documentary is well worth watching. Even if you’re not a lover of Williams and his work (though how can you not be?), learning more about Lewy Body Dementia is important. It’s an under the radar illness, but it’s a disorder that’s as awful as any out there. That’s what the flick really hammers home. This fatal condition can’t be reversed, but it can be understood. Understanding what Williams went through is a trying experience, but it’s one you should partake in.


Be sure to check out Robin’s Wish, available to watch on September 1st!

(Photos courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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