The Night Listener
This article is from 2006.
(Patrick Stettner, US, 2006) 81min
A flimsy, morose fiction based on a promising true premise: blocked gay writer (Robin Williams) has tired of his popular radio show, in which he ransacks his personal life for source material. Out of the blue, he is phoned by an avid fan, a teenage boy who claims to be a gender-confused victim of grotesque childhood sexual abuse. Yet, as his semi-estranged HIV-positive lover immediately observes, the boy’s androgynous voice sounds uncannily like that of his female guardian (Toni Collette). Is it a con, or are the boy’s plight and admiration genuine?
Adapted from a novel by Armistead Maupin, this is lent a spurious topicality by its similarity to the case of JT LeRoy, a figure whose invented/exaggerated sufferings formed the basis of a later discredited ‘memoir’. This aside, there is nothing of interest here. A film that not even the gifted Collette can save is a sad thing indeed.