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The Night Listener

A movie directed by Patrick Stettner

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Maupin's Novel Depended on Mind Mysteries: The Camera Somehow Interferes

  • Jan 11, 2007
Armistead Maupin's novel THE NIGHT LISTENER is a terrifyingly disturbing examination of a disintegrating mind and the manner in which such a mind deals with needs and reality. It is a stunning work, one in which the reader is never quite sure where reality stops and delusions start. Though Maupin co-wrote the screenplay adaptation with Terry Anderson and Director Patrick Stettner, some of the inherent magic of the story is lost in translation when the camera makes the novel visual.

Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams in a fine, understated serious performance), a writer who reads the 'fiction of his life' on a late night talk show, is having a writer's block, due in part to his devastation of losing his AIDS ridden but stabilized lover Jess (Bobby Cannavale), having nursed him for years but now feeling discarded so that Jess can feel life again. A literary agent Ashe (Joe Morton) asks Gabriel to read a galley of a book written by a 14 year old boy Pete Logand ('Rory Culkin') who is describing his years of sexual abuse as a child and his current coping with AIDS in Wisconsin and is under the faster care of a social worker Donna (Toni Collette, once again proving there is no role she can't master!). Gabriel reads the book galley, and is fascinated by a story about a life that makes his own situation seem minor. He receives a call from Pete and subsequent calls from Donna and when he shares the story and events with Jess he is warned of a possible fraud. Does Pete really exist? It seems Gabriel needs to discover the truth and heads to Wisconsin where he meets the blind Donna but is unable to get in to see Pete. Where the story goes form there is important to leave unsaid, as the mystery must be kept intact for the individual viewer.

Each of the cast turns in credible performances, not an easy feat when the line between illusion/delusion/reality is so tenuous. One character has been added - Anna (the always superb Sandra Oh) - and it is her analysis of the facts that holds much of the storyline together. The mood of the piece is perfectly captured by cinematographer Lisa Rinzler and music writer Peter Nashel. But credit director Patrick Stettner for pulling performances form Williams, Collette, Cannavale and Oh that represent some of their finest work on film. Grady Harp, January 07

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More The Night Listener (2006 movie... reviews
review by . October 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I think the problem with The Night Listener is that it is billed as a thriller. As such, viewers approach it with a specific structure they are expecting. If viewed as a thriller, The Night Listener does not measure up at all (too small a narrative and the pacing does not increase with time as most thrillers do); it measures up a little bit more if you view it as a series of character studies. Unfortunately, that format is better for novels than for movies.      A radio personality, …
review by . January 08, 2007
"THE NIGHT LISTENER"    The Quest for Truth        Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride    Armistead Maupin is an amazing author and his "Tales of the City" books and TV series were one of the best works I have both read and seen. The same unfortunately is not true for "The Night Listener". It is the story of a gay radio announcer who becomes intrigued by a manuscript that he receives and tells a tale of sexual abuse. The book …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Celebrity and psychosis collide to truly creepy effect inThe Night Listener. Radio personality Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams) is asked to read an advance copy of a memoir by a boy who was horribly abused by his parents. Struck by the boy's story, Noone starts talking to him over the phone, gradually taking an almost parental interest in him--until someone suggests that the boy may not be exactly who he seems. Troubled, Noone flies to Wisconsin, where he meets the boy's social worker (Toni Collette,The Sixth Sense,In Her Shoes) and uncovers some alarming secrets. Don't let the vague, faux-literary titleThe Night Listenerlead you astray; this is a horror movie and a very good one. There are no supernatural monsters or relentless axe-murderers, only a damaged, manipulative mind, which proves to be creepier than any serial killer. Williams gives an excellent, quirk-free performance, but it's Collette who gets under your skin and crawls around. She's vividly eerie, the sort of performance that can stick with you for days. Stealthy, surprising, and wonderfully acted all around--the movie also features Joe Morton (The Brother from Another Planet), Bobby Cannavale (The Station Agent), and Sandra Oh (Sideways)--The Night Listeneris an unexpected gem.--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Patrick Stettner
Genre: Drama
Release Date: August 4, 2006
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: January 9, 2007
Runtime: 1hr 21min
Studio: Miramax
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