The Night Listener Reviews
In the midst of his crumbling relationship, a radio show host begins speaking to his biggest fan, a young boy, via the telephone. But when questions about the boy's identity come up, the host's life is thrown into chaos.
Written by Armistead Maupin (who co-wrote the screenplay with his former lover Terry Anderson and the film's novice director Stettner) and based on a true story about a fan's hoax found out has some Hitchcockian moments that run on full tilt like any good old fashioned pot-boiler does. It helps that Williams gives a stand-out, low-key performance as the conflicted good-hearted personality who genuinely wants to believe that his number one fan is in fact real and does love him (the one thing that has escaped his own reality) and has some unsettling dreadful moments with the creepy Collette whose one physical trait I will leave unmentioned but underlines the desperation of her character that can rattle you to the core.
The story itself is a little slow and not as well executed as it could have been. It almost seemed like a "made for tv" movie at times. But it was inriguing enough to keep my interst and at times was actually even a little creepy.
Toni Collette seldom disapoints and seems to get better, the more she challenges herself. I hope she continues to get the opportunity to do so.
[font=Century Gothic]"The Night Listener" is first and foremost about the art of storytelling and what makes a good story. Since the movie is inspired by a true story, there was no reason why elements could not have been added which would have made it a more interesting and better story than the one that was filmed. (Gabriel embellishes the stories he tells and lies outright to a fellow passenger.) The film is also about conflict between needing to believe in something versus being skeptical all of the time.[/font]
In this PG-13-rated psychological thriller, a writer who reads his works on a popular late-night radio show develops an intense but complicated relationship with a seriously ill boy (Rory Culkin)...a child who just might be a figment of a troubled mother (Collette)'s imagination.
Buoyed by an awesome supporting cast (especially Collette as the child's duplicit gatekeeper), Williams' tortured Gabriel Noone kinda sorta holds moviegoers' sympathies as he tries, in a somewhat pathetic Quixotic attempt, to search out this elusive butterfly. A maudlin spirit permeates the movie, however, causing the audience to thirst for an increased dosage of humor or whimsy. The ending also proves problematic. The suspense comes undone in the home stretch when the movie, which (or so the audience is told at the outset) is based on true events, takes a definite stand on the boy's existence...only to repeat the "true events" mantra again and lecture John Q. Moviegoer that the matter was never actually resolved. Huh? Director Patrick Stettner simply should have taken a firm stand and said no more. In truth, this is the kind of suspenser M. Night Shyamalan would have done wonders with-a lost man, a troubled boy, and a Hitchcockian twist.
Bottom line: Bad Night, And Good Luck.