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The Night Listener

A movie directed by Patrick Stettner

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The Quest for Truth

  • Jan 8, 2007
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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 was compelling and was a real page turner but the movie starring the two wonderful stars, Robin Williams and Toni Collette, just did not give me the same dark feelings that I got from the book. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile seeing and pondering it--it definitely shared a strange atmosphere with the book.
Robin Williams is Gabriel Noone and his radio talk show "Noone at Night" is an intimate look into the life of he and his partner. When the movie opens, Noone is dealing with the issues involved with the end of his relationship with his lover. Jess, his mate, has moved out of the home they shared. Noone is so depressed that he has trouble doing his radio show when a friend of his, an editor, gives him a manuscript to read, hoping that this will live his spirits and give him a jolt of reality. The manuscript is the memoir of a young man named Pete and it relates of how he was sexually abused by his parents and while the abuse continued, he was filmed and used for child pornography. He is now suffering from AIDS and is in the care of a social worker, Donna, played by Toni Collete (who has become one of the most versatile actresses in the business today). Gabriel is taken in by the story and he makes an effort to forge a connection with the child. Donna, however, guards the child and the connection they make is by phone only. When Gabriel relays the story to Jess, his "ex" becomes highly suspicious and feels that the entire business may be a fictional account. Gabriel begins to have his own suspicions and notices that when he listens to messages on his answering machine, he begins to question whether or not Pete and Donna are one and the same person. Donna invites him to come to Wisconsin for Christmas and then just as suddenly uninvites him. Gabriel then decides to set out to see them on his own.
Maupin wrote the screenplay from what was a highly personal semi-autobiographical book. In doing so, he had to change some of it and leave some of it out and in doing so. Some of the suspense that kept the book together was lost. If "The Night Listener" had received the same wonderful treatment as "Tales of the City", I am sure it would have been a great deal more satisfying. The book solved nothing and kept the reader guessing. What the movie does, I leave up to you to decide when you see it.

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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 11, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
About the reviewer
Amos Lassen ()
Ranked #210
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … 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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