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The Night Listener
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Night Listener More at IMDbPro »

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217 out of 252 people found the following review useful:

Really Good Stuff

8/10
Author: timberhoood from United States
6 August 2006

When it comes to movies I can be pretty picky, and I'll complain about anything and everything that is done wrong. While every movie has its flaws, The Night Listener had an exceptionally low count.

If you read the last review (it was hard, since half of it was written in caps and it contained no actual information about the movie), you may have been led to believe that this movie was not too well done. Unfortunately, if you read more than 3 lines into that same review, you discovered the poster's reason for disdain: he/she does not like the fact that the director is gay (or that the production team smokes crack...apparently).

So, despite the fact that I have never written a review before, I thought this movie deserved one based on its merits, not the sexual orientation of its director. Let's go over a quick checklist first: 1. Great plot? Absolutely. I won't give a shred of it away, but the plot is highly compelling and definitely not what one would expect based on the commercials. This is a thriller, not a horror, and it should be approached as such. The story really will amaze you, even more so because it's true (and the plot did stay quite faithful to the actual events).

2. Wonderful Acting? Oh Yes. Robin Williams long ago broke free from the chains of the comedy type-cast, and he has since flourished in serious roles for which many people would have wrote him off just a decade ago. He once again achieves high form in his role in The Night Listener, playing a radio host who becomes increasingly troubled by and entangled in a case of...well, I'll let you see for yourself.

3. Excellent direction? Certainly. Now, unlike the other poster to which I referred, I actually know something about direction. I've been sutdying the art of direction at school now for 3 years. Of course I really don't think that makes a lick of difference (the only thing that matters is if YOU like the direction), but I thought I should simply establish once again that I'm basing my opinions here on something both substantial and relevant...for example: not the sexual orientation of the director (or the alleged drug habits of the production team, LOL).

Patrick Stettner's direction was moody and dark, and he allowed the angles and lighting to help create those so-sought-after feelings of "tension and release" rather than the messy, fast-paced camera-work and quick cuts we're so often subjected to today. Some people can truly show you a story through their camera, while other's feel as if they have to make the story with the camera. I really appreciate when someone these days has the courage to just use the camera as its supposed to be utilized, which is as an eyeball through which we all see.

4. Lighting, cinematography, and editing? Great all around. I've already wrote so much, and I could go on about these last three things for another ten paragraphs, so I'll just wrap it up.

In short, go see this movie. Don't listen to people who have alterior motives for trashing it, especially if they're so stupid that they unknowingly reveal that motive 1/4 of the way through their post. Enjoy the show! -Ben

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92 out of 113 people found the following review useful:

Give it a shot.

8/10
Author: palefire-1 from United States
5 August 2006

This Night Listener is better than people are generally saying. It has weaknesses, and it seems to be having a genre identity crisis, no doubt, but I think its creepy atmosphere and intriguing performances make up for this. The whole thing feels like one of those fireside "this happened to a friend of a friend of mine" ghost stories. One big complaint about the movie is the pacing: but the slow and sometimes awkward pacing is deliberate. Everything that unfolds in this movie is kept well within the realm of possibility, and real life just sort of plods along—no? So there are no flashy endings or earth-shattering revelations, no "showdown" scenes. Thank Heaven. You have to get into the zone when watching this movie, forget your reservations and your expectations of what makes a (conventionally)good movie. Williams isn't terrific, but he easily meets the needs of the story, plus his character is supposed to be somewhat generic ("No One") as he is the Everyman, the avatar by which we ourselves enter the story. Toni Collette's performance should be nominated for an Oscar (even if she maybe shouldn't win it). Give it a shot. For quality and content alone, The Night Listener is surely in the top twenty percent of movies coming out these days.

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85 out of 127 people found the following review useful:

An awesome psychological thriller...

9/10
Author: Sophie Dold from Canada
5 August 2006

I absolutely LOVED this film! I do not at all relate to all the other comments I have read about it. I was COMPLETELY enthralled through every second!

I found the story gripping, the acting intense, and the direction spot-on. I would literally jump every time the phone would ring close to the end of the movie. Even though there was nothing "scary" about the story itself, I was soundly on edge through the whole movie - and for the rest of my evening.

I found that there were so many perfect choices made...the casting, the script, the little bits of humor sprinkled in it. There were so many points where the film could've gone for the cheap thrill, but it never did, and that for me put this movie above so many of the mediocre thrillers that have come out lately...and for the last number of years.

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49 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

Interesting premise, great acting, but story...?

4/10
Author: bondgirl6781 from Florida, USA
4 August 2006

I couldn't give this film a bad rating or bad review for two reasons: Robin Williams and Toni Collete. The film has the potential of being a thriller and there are some slight disturbing elements that lean to the psychological which was something the film could have focused a little on. Robin Williams plays Gabriel Noon, a storytelling night time deejay who is going through personal issues: his lover moves out and Gabriel is having what seems to be a case of storyteller's block. One day he receives and reads a story written by a dying 14-year old boy named Pete Boland (Rory Culkin). Pete tells the story of his life and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his parents. He lives with his adopted mother and social worker, Donna Boland (Toni Collette). Gabriel is fascinated and begins a friendship with Pete, but things seem strange when Gabriel attempts to meet him and discovers the possibility that Pete Boland may not even exist. I won't go into detail because I don't want to spoil the film, but I will tell you this: it is quite predictable. Fascinating atmosphere for telling a story and good performances from Robin Williams and Toni Collette, who I thought was the film's key character. Collette is without question one of the most talented and loveliest actresses. Her ability to tap into the psyche and personality of the characters she portrays is very uncanny and I hope to see her win an Oscar (hell, I think she might pull off getting a Best Supporting Actress nod for this one if the script were a little better). The film starts off as a psychological thriller, but a predictable one at that. If your curious to know the film's ending and twists, then see the film otherwise I would rent another predictable thriller called "Hide and Seek".

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66 out of 105 people found the following review useful:

Kept me interested

8/10
Author: aharmas from United States
29 July 2006

If there is one thing to recommend about this film is that it is intriguing. The premise certainly draws the audience in because it is a mystery, and throughout the film there are hints that there is something dark lurking about. However, there is not much tension, and Williams' mild mannered portrayal doesn't do much to makes us relate to his obsession with the boy.

Collete fares much better as the woman whose true nature and intentions are not very clear. The production felt rushed and holes are apparent. It certainly feels like a preview for a much more complete and better effort. The book is probably better.

One thing is certain: Taupin must have written something truly good to have inspired at least one commendable effort.

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45 out of 64 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly mediocre.

6/10
Author: Samantha from United States
23 August 2006

All of the elements of a fabulous film are in place: amazing actors, interesting true story, decent budget and set. Somehow, this movie falls flat and is quite forgettable.

I attribute this to the director. I've never seen his other movies, so I cannot compare. The movie was predictable, opportunities for some really great suspenseful moments were missed...like missing ten free-throws in basketball - painfully annoying...this director shot, and missed...a lot.

There's nothing inherently wrong with the film...it just screams, "Help me! Find me a fabulous editor to fix what this director missed!" This is the sort of movie one watches on HBO while folding laundry (since it wasn't compelling enough to see in the theater), and considers it "okay", but certainly not worthy of ones full attention...glad the laundry is done!

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Open-ended drama/thriller that works

8/10
Author: S.R. Dipaling from Topeka, Kansas, USA
14 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Popular radio storyteller Gabriel No one(Robin Williams,scraggy and speaking in hushed,hypnotic tones) becomes acquainted and friends with a fourteen-year-old boy from Wisconsin named Pete Logand(Rory Culkin),who has written a book detailing sexual abuse from his parents. To boot,Pete has AIDS and this compels Gabriel further still,since his partner Jess(Bobby Cannavale,good)happens to be a survivor of HIV himself.

He also acquaints himself with Pete's guardian,a woman named Donna(Toni Collette,brilliant!)and when Gabriel decides he wants to meet and talk to the two of them in person and goes to Wisconsin,he discovers some secrets he was(naturally)not prepared to find.

Based on real events that happened to Armistead Maupin(who co-wrote the screenplay with Terry Anderson)and directed by Patrick Stetner,this film moves a lot faster(90 min.,maybe a few minutes longer)than one might think a movie of this genre would run. That's good in that it keeps the action and storyline lean and clear. It's bad in that it leaves various holes in the plot and doesn't sew-up any of the plot openings or back-story. I'd rather not go into any great detail except to say that,if you are not familiar with Mr.Maupin's works or his personal story,you feel a little bit out of the loop here. Still,the performances by Williams( I would've loved to heard more of his narration,personally),Collette,Cannavale,Culkin and much of the supporting cast(the Waitress at the restaurant Collete's Donna frequents does a great job with what small part she has!)are top-notch and the mood established here--namely,the chilly,lonely dark exteriors of Wisconsin and New York--give a terrific framing for this story. It may have ends that don't tie together particularly well,but it's still a compelling enough story to stick with.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Don't expect thrills in Robin Williams' The Night Listener

6/10
Author: tavm from Baton Rouge, La.
13 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Night Listener is a somewhat interesting drama about a radio storyteller who is intrigued by an unpublished manuscript by a 14-year old boy who was sexually abused by his parents. Adopted by Armistead Maupin from his novel, this film has a slow-paced energy that makes it almost hard to stay awake for anyone expecting a thriller. Robin Williams is certainly at his most somber with no chance to act up a storm even when he gets really angry. Toni Collette plays the boy's caretaker or is she? When Bobby Cannavale as Williams' former partner hears the messages of the boy and the caretaker he notices the similarity of the voices which makes Williams doubt his intuition. Also with Sandra Oh and Rory Culkin as the boy. Suppsedly based on a true story, you might want to give this a try but don't expect to get too excited, just realize you're not watching a conventional drama or thriller.

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Like one of the previous commenters said...

7/10
Author: matschang-2 from United States
16 February 2007

Like one of the previous commenters said, this had the foundations of a great movie but something happened on the way to delivery. Such a waste because Collette's performance was eerie and Williams was believable. I just kept waiting for it to get better. I don't think it was bad editing or needed another director, it could have just been the film. It came across as a Canadian movie, something like the first few seasons of X-Files. Not cheap, just hokey. Also, it needed a little more suspense. Something that makes you jump off your seat. The movie reached that moment then faded away; kind of like a false climax. I can see how being too suspenseful would have taken away from the "reality" of the story but I thought that part was reached when Gabriel was in the hospital looking for the boy. This movie needs to have a Director's cut that tries to fix these problems.

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18 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

It's A Provocative Idea

Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
16 December 2007

Just who is that person on the other end of the line, in any virtual relationship that we may happen to engage? In "The Night Listener" a late-night NYC radio storyteller named Gabriel (Robin Williams) talks to, and corresponds with, a 14-year-old sick boy named Pete, and his adult guardian Donna, who live in Wisconsin. But Gabriel's partner becomes suspicious of Pete and Donna, which leads Gabriel to go to Wisconsin to see the boy, to whom Gabriel has grown attached.

It's an interesting and provocative idea. We make assumptions, and don't bother to check them out. If those assumptions are false, then we engage in self-deception. This story questions the nature of reality, in personal relationships carried on over long distances. As a mystery, the film is dark, and when combined with elevator background music, the tone is sleepy and somber.

The problem here is that, although it's an interesting concept, there's really not enough material to justify a full-length feature film. The plot contains many contrivances that extend the runtime, and even then, the film is only 81 minutes in duration. The pace is very, very slow.

Further, while I like and admire Robin Williams as a comedian, he comes across as boring, in serious roles and not just because those roles lack humor. In "The Night Listener", he pouts his way through, all doleful and morose. You get the feeling that he's going to burst into tears at any moment.

As we watch the film, clearly there is some mystery that we do not understand, some puzzle that must be solved. And yet, when we find out what the solution is, it's a letdown. There never really was that much to the puzzle, after all.

"The Night Listener" is mostly a Robin Williams cinematic vehicle, and he plays his part very, very seriously. The script, based on an intriguing concept, just does not contain enough significant plot points to make the film entertaining.

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