Movie Review: The Night Listener (2006)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2006 mystery thriller starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.

Synopsis: Gabriel Noone is a successful gay radio talk show host but is in a funk because of relationship problems. He gets a bit of a boost when he talks over the phone to a dying 14-year-old fan who is about to publish an emotional book about his troubled past. However, when Gabriel begins to doubt the boy really exists, he becomes obsessed with finding proof.

Review

My wife and I had planned on catching up on some of our television shows last night. However, while waiting until everyone was settled, she happened to come across this film on one of our movie channels and, because it looked interesting, we ended up watching it instead. As it turns out, it was a better movie than we were expecting it to be.

Even though Robin Williams was known for being a comedian, I always thought he was better in more-dramatic roles. And, this film turned out not to be an exception to that. He brought a lot of believable emotion to his Gabriel Noone character and was enjoyable to watch as a result.

What really won me over about this movie, however, was the mystery. At first, his relationship with the AIDS-infected Pete (Culkin) seemed legitimate. But, once his boyfriend (Cannavale) pointed out the similarities between Pete's voice and that of Pete's mom (Collette), things quickly spiraled out of control for him and Pete's existence was truly in doubt.

I think the thing that really won me over about this film was the way it kept the truth a secret throughout, even to the point I still wasn't completely sure of the answer when it ended. On one hand, nobody could remember ever seeing Pete in person. But, there was also plenty of evidence supporting his existence.

As a result, I wasn't sure if Pete was real, if he was figment of his mother's imagination or if Gabriel himself was having some sort of mental breakdown and was imagining both of them. And, while I think this movie fell well-short of being a thriller, as advertised, it was definitely memorable as a mystery and we enjoyed watching it as a result.

Final Opinion

It's probably not a film for everyone, but Williams' performance and a plot that was definitely intriguing did make this a fun film for us to watch. I definitely would recommend it.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 03/24/2017, StevenHelmer
 
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