The Night Listener (2 stars)

(15) 81min

Robin Williams is back behind the microphone, but Gabriel Noone, his late night radio show host in The Night Listener is a lot less fun than the shock jock he portrayed in Good Morning, Vietnam. In Patrick The Business of Strangers Stettner’s adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s novel, Williams tones down his motor-mouthed delivery to the level of a passive sleepwalk as sombrely gay Gabriel Noone, a repressed, morose author and broadcaster who finds himself the unwilling object of a listener’s obsession. But are the phone calls and the tortured literary manuscript he receives from abused child Pete (Rory Culkin) genuine? Or has weirdo mom Donna (Toni Collette) a more sinister secret to hide? Despite a tacked-on conclusion missing from Maupin’s original text, don’t expect any real answers from Stettner’s taut but pointless film, which addresses the current vogue for literary hoaxes without sufficient interest in the nuances of its central characters. Despite Williams’ restrained central turn, Collette’s overacting and Culkin’s spectral presence makes The Night Listener play, oddly, like The Sixth Sense without the twist.

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