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The Night Listener
The Night Listener
Actors: Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Rory Culkin, Joe Morton, Bobby Cannavale
Director: Patrick Stettner
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2007     1hr 22min

Academy Award(R) winner Robin Williams (Best Supporting Actor, GOOD WILL HUNTING, 1997; ONE HOUR PHOTO, INSOMNIA) is unforgettable in a riveting, critically acclaimed psychological thriller based on true events! Gabriel No...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Rory Culkin, Joe Morton, Bobby Cannavale
Director: Patrick Stettner
Creators: Patrick Stettner, Armistead Maupin, Brett Williams, Caroline Kaplan, Daniel Feiner, Terry Anderson
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Miramax
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/09/2007
Original Release Date: 08/04/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 08/04/2006
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 22min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish, French
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Member Movie Reviews

Sandra S. (ratracesandra) from CUMMING, GA
Reviewed on 7/19/2008...
Really enjoyed this movie. Robin Williams plays his part wonderfully. Must say that you need pay attention, or you might miss something important. Lots of twist.....
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Robin F. (MINI-NANA) from LOUISA, VA
Reviewed on 12/6/2007...
Many twists and turns, so PAYATTENTION! LOL Very good movie.
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Compelling, but it falls short
L. Quido | Tampa, FL United States | 08/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Sigh. I still have Maupin's novel "The Night Listener" on my nightstand. I understand from friends that it is (once again) more complex and easier to like than the new film. Maupin wrote the script with director Patrick Stettner and Terry Anderson, who was once Maupin's real life partner. The novel is semi-autobiographical, a story of love, loss and obsession that twists itself into a kind of psychological thriller.

Still, I was more compelled by the deeper emotions than I was by the plot twists and dark moments.

I try to see every movie that features Toni Collette. She's a consummate actress that isn't afraid to look ordinary, plain, kind of "horsy" when the role calls for it. In this film, as Donna, the social worker who adopted a young boy, Peter (Rory Culkin)to help him recover from a chilhood of abuse, pedophilia and sexual slavery, as well as AIDS, Collette is down right spooky. She's a little "off", but somehow we can't put our fingers on why. Peter's written a book about his so called childhood. As publishing editor Ashe (the always interesting Joe Morton) puts it, it was the cleanest manuscript he'd read that year, and so compelling that he gives it to author/public radio talk show host Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams) to read and dissect before publication.

Part of Ashe's strategy is to save Noone from himself. Noone is a national figure who brought his talk show (Noone at Night) to life by discussing his relationship with much younger, AIDS-stricken partner Jess (Bobby Cannavale). Throughout their 8 years together, while being applauded for his forthright style by the gay community, Noone has been feeding off his personal life, changing and tweaking details to make a better show. At the beginning of the film, we learn he's barely able to work anymore, because Jess has decided to leave him -- stronger and recovering from his illness, Jess has decided to live life on his own, with people who are more his age. Still, he cares for Gabriel and wants to continue the friendship. It is in the denouement of the relationship that Jess finally confesses that Gabe's laying out of their lives for all to see is what finally drove him away.

Noone reads the book by young Peter and begins a long-distance relationship with him and his caretaker by phone. He's being brought back to life by his feelings of caring when both of the young friends in "real" life, Jess and assistant Anna (Sandra Oh) cause him to take stock of whether or not Peter's story is real. There's a startling similarity to Peter and Donna's voices on the phone, and there's little that Gabe can do when his visit to see Peter in Wisconsin at Christmas is cancelled because Peter is in the hospital. Noone expresses his concerns to Ashe and suddenly Rory's book is on the back burner.

Tension heightens when Gabe decides to take a trip to rural Wisconsin to find out whether or not young Peter is who he says he is. The subsequent twists, turns and final peeling away of the truth in the movie are bizarre, have moments of discomfort, but no real shock or tension, as was found in the films of Hitchcock or "The Sixth Sense", which this film is being compared to. I must admit, however, that there is a moment of absolute terror for me when Gabe is a reluctant passenger in a car that turns off the road. The sounds of it continuing to travel are immediately recognizable to someone from Minnesota as the sounds a car makes when it is traveling over ice on a frozen lake. Now that is true fear.

Robin Williams plays Gabe as a man uncomfortable with where his life has taken him. He's real, he's difficult, and he's a little hard to understand when he finally arrives in Wisconsin. His feelings for Jess are never far from the surface, but it is in his moments with Sandra Oh, that his likeability shines through.

Collette, as mentioned before, is worth the price of admission. Once again, we find ourselves drawn to her, and her performance, almost by the sense of eeriness that she projects.

Cannavale, Morton, and Oh are some of my favorites from television, and all sparkle here, especially in interaction with Williams. Lastly, young Rory Culkin, in his brief moments on screen, is hard not to like.

I'm always surprised when a studio hands a film to a writer, as a director. (He's previously written and directed the forgettable "The Business of Strangers" in 2001, although in that film he also coaxed fine performances from Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles). Stettner is no exception to the rule that big dollars and actors/actresses might need a firmer hand. I am surprised that he was able to get the characterization on film and the performances flowing at this level; his cinematography was interesting, but script, the plotting and the sense of thrill and danger were very underdeveloped. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the final scene tacked on to show the audience where Donna has landed. The scene was almost dysfunctional; instead of leaving the viewer with a sense of dread, it left us wondering where and how she came into money.

Worth a view, but most film-goers will prefer to wait for the DVD."
Robin Williams Turns In Bravura Performance In Creepy Role..
sfarmer76 | Savannah, Georgia USA | 08/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Not really a crowd pleaser -- The Night Listener. This Robin Williams vehicle was unwisely billed as a thriller; truth told, it's more a drama with elements of mystery. I'd say the people marketing the movie failed, because the movie tanked last weekend (small $3 million opening) despite playing in 1,300 theaters.

If you're squeamish, you might skip this emotionally draining movie because of its subject matter. The plot involves the sexually exploited Pete Logand (Culkin), a fourteen year old boy whom was rescued from horrific family squalor only to be placed in a dilapidated Wisconsin farmhouse with a blind disabled foster mother.

Gabriel (Williams) is a national radio host based in NYC, and Pete is a fan of Gabriel's talk program `Noone at Night.' When the precocious teen pens a book about sexual abuse -- and Gabriel's publishing friend lends the manuscript to Noone -- the boy and the man become telephone friends.

Having explained the surface dynamics of the budding friendship between the two males, the moviegoer's discomfort is only amplified by the fact that Gabriel is portrayed as being openly gay. Wouldn't Gabriel's unspoken motivations make you uneasy, considering that his committed relationship with younger partner Jess (Cannavale) is concurrently falling apart?

The fact that a fourteen year old boy could write an accomplished nuanced memoir -- `The Blacking Factory' -- about sex abuse brings up too many uncomfortable questions, so Gabriel, his publishing friend Ashe (Morton), and his bookkeeper Anna (Oh), start sharing personal concerns they're all enmeshed in a career-ending hoax.

Logic tells them something is screwy because Pete places calls to Gabriel's home about his forthcoming book, and Pete's foster mother Donna (Collette), places calls to Gabriel concerning Pete's ill health -- supposedly he's developed AIDS -- but nobody at Gabriel's townhouse chats with the foster mother or damaged boy simultaneously.

In any event, Gabriel questions Pete's existence and the possibility he's a fraud gnaws at him. Since he's a radio host, he's comfortable conversing with hundreds of anonymous callers every night. Are his call-in participants any more real than Pete? Maybe Pete is a better master manipulator than Gabriel is?

Stettner is the director here, and he fashions a mesmerizing story around Gabriel's decision to verify the truth no matter what destruction it might visit on his personal life. When Donna and Pete's arranged visit to New York falls through (disconnected phone) Gabriel wings off to Milwaukee to locate them anyway.

Toni Collette upstages Robin Williams twice here. First in the damp basement of that wrecked farmhouse where she juggles props (a ball of yarn, a fetching red sweater) with insults that'll stand your arm hair on end. The second time on a cold avenue -- that encounter involving a near fatal accident.

Equally chilling is a scene where Gabriel has been captured by a burly local policeman -- after breaking into Donna's house after Pete supposedly dies in a hospital and Donna abruptly moves out of the farmhouse -- and is then driven out on a frozen lake, and attacked with a taser.

Now that I've framed the premise, complimentary observations are due. First, that kaleidoscopic introduction is riveting. What's going on? We get just a glimpse. Second, charged tension floats between characters throughout; even in casual exchanges, like when Gabriel buys Playboy from a newsstand, or he argues with Gabriel Noone Sr. (Cullum).

Even though The Night Listener doesn't seem to be pulling the audience it deserves; it's going to turn a healthy profit on home DVD since it only cost $4 million to film. It's got high production values, it's gorgeous to look at, and Robin Williams and Toni Collette both turn in bravely compelling performances.

Rather than nitpick the misplaced fatherly concern (ill-advised transcontinental flight) that places Gabriel in mortal danger, viewers should simply entertain the idea that his voyage was purely selfless. It's only in that nuanced light that the adaptation of Armistead Maupin's The Night Listener succeeds. Nonetheless, Robin's work here should be considered Oscar-worthy."
It could have been fabulous but missed the boat
MLRapp | NY | 01/30/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I really wanted to love this film for a few reasons: (1) the very compelling premise (a radio storyteller in the midst of his own relationship troubles starts receiving calls from a young fan who is trying to publish a book about his childhood abuse, only to realize this "Petey" may not be who he claims to be, if he exists at all); (2) Robin Williams played a serious role which is so rare - it was wonderful to watch him play a gay man (in what I thought was an unstereotypical way) who was so emotionally raw; (3) Toni Collette was DYNAMITE in her role as the "boy's adoptive mother" (she should have been nominated for her role); and (4) it started off in such a way that I was constantly trying to figure out what was happening, which kept me on my toes, so to speak.

However, somewhere along the line the movie missed the boat, and my above-mentioned reasons for wanting to love it were outweighed by the lack of fulfillment I had upon finishing the film. If I were a movie expert perhaps I would be better able to explain what exactly was missing from this film, but as a lay person I just felt like it didn't live up to its potential, despite the interesting plot and wonderful acting. The ending (I won't give anything away), while interesting, was completely predictable and didn't really make up for the fact that the viewer was "in the dark" for the first half of the film.

I wouldn't recommend buying this movie (or even renting it), unless you are solely interested in Toni Colette's performance which was great."