The Night Listener

A very good Robin Williams performance gets wasted in this useless film. Williams plays Gabriel Noone, host of an extremely boring and morose nightly radio talk show, who starts getting calls from a sick boy (the very talented Rory Culkin) who plans to print a novel about his childhood abuse before he dies from AIDS. Toni Collette plays the boy’s adoptive mother, and the two befriend Noone. When Noone’s ex-boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale) proposes the idea that the phone calls sound like they are a hoax, Noone becomes obsessed with finding out the truth, and he goes on a trek to visit the boy. When the film ends, there is a true sense of wasted time—and the thing is less than 90 minutes long. This is Williams in reserved mode, something that has served him well with films such as Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo and especially Insomnia. There just isn’t a script to match his fine work; the same goes for Collette. She acts her heart out to no avail. The film thinks it’s clever, but it winds up cheating the viewer and feeling incomplete.

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