I hate those fuddy duddies who say "the movie's not as good as the book," but now I find myself being one of them.
I am not a fan of Amistad Maupin's work. I find it a bit trite. However, I loved The Night Listener. It's a powerful novel exploring themes of human need, desperation and lonliness. It's also a fun puzzle. Unfortunately the film is none of these things.
The Night Listener the movie is a very good example of what happens when Hollywood gets it all wrong. Instead of making an intense drama the studio must have said to the film makers "We can sell this as a thriller! Make it scary!"
Really, there is nothing scary in The Night Listener and therefore the film just seems pathetic as it tries to make the audience jump. Also, all the time spent trying to contort this narrative into the cliches of the thriller genres saps all the of intereting elements of The Night Listener from the film.
Toni Collette does a fairly good job with what she has but she's busy trying to be a villian instead of the character the book puts forward. Robin Williams doesn't even seem to be trying. He's proven himself a powerful actor but here he mopes and whines without putting any energy into it. Maybe he knows just how far off this script is.
Tell me, Maupin, you wrote the book and the script. What were you thinking?