Monday, August 07, 2006
The Night Listener, a mesmerizing mystery from director Patrick Stettner, delivers to the audiences a fascinating tale with briefness and emotional power of a great short story.
Gabriel Noone(Robin Williams), is the host of "Noone at Night", a late-night talk show on which he has become famous for sharing stories from his life- mostly true but sometimes "inflated" to make his stories more interesting. He is a sad and lonely guy who hosts the show at the eleven-to-midnight hour. The gay guy, whose partner has left him, lives in Manhattan. Gabriel is several weeks behind in his obligation to WNYH for new radio programs.
Gabriel's friend Ashe (Joe Morton), a book editor gives Gabriel a manuscript of a book about to be published called "The Blacking Factory." The book tells the tormenting memoirs of a young boy who was abused by his parents and their friends for pictures shown on the internet. The author of the book is Pete (Rory Culkin) the abused boy. The 14 year old boy lives with Donna (Toni Collette), his adopted foster mother, who is dying of AIDS. Ashe suggests that Gabriel talk to them, which he does. Since they live in a small town in Wisconsin, Gabriel's constant conversations with his newfound friends all occur over the phone.
Gabriel introduces his partner, Jess to Pete and Donna over speakerphone. Jess suspects Pete's story to be fishy and that the voices of Pete and Donna seem similar.
After some remote investigations and several false starts, Gabriel eventually makes his way to Wisconsin to see Pete and Donna. An already perplexing movie gets even better at this point. Always good at creating a real and believable sense of place, the film is especially keen in its observation of small town Wisconsin, especially the local diner.
Co-scripted by Armistead Maupin and based on his own book, Patrick Stettner's film is psychological thriller where Noone finds himself drawn into a relationship that will test everything in which he believes and rend the very fabric between truth and illusion.
Michael Shaw's superb production design contributes to the movie's dread suspense and fine symbolism. The delicate visual cues enrich the story and the understated framing and editing enhance the movie's thrill.
Cast: Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Sandra Oh, Rory Culkin, Joe Morton, John Cullum, Bobby Cannavale
Genre: Drama, Thriller and Adaptation
Directors: Patrick Stettner
Producer: Jeff Sharp, Jill Footlick, John Hart, Robert Kessel
Writers: Armistead Maupin, Terry Anderson, Patrick Stettner