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The Night Listener

One of the more watchable films
By BROOKE HOLGERSON  |  August 2, 2006
2.5 2.5 Stars

THE NIGHT LISTENER: Who’d have thought Robin Williams would have one of the more watchable films of the summer?
Robin Williams mostly recovers from the mess that was R.V. by going serious with an understated performance in Patrick Stettner’s new thriller, which is based on a novel by Armistead Maupin. Williams plays a successful but lonely writer with a radio show who allows himself to become entangled with another writer, the 14-year-old author (Rory Culkin) of an autobiography about abuse. The boy now lives with an adopted mother (Toni Collette), but is he real or imaginary? The plot recalls the JT LeRoy fiasco, and though Stettner plays down the psychology of the novel in favor of a more traditional thriller approach, the performances by Williams and Collette build to a surprising resonance by the film’s predictable end. And if Williams threatens to go Patch Adams at times, Stettner reins him in while creating a creepy, lived-in atmosphere. Who’d have thought Robin Williams would have one of the more watchable films of the summer?

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