The Night Listener

2007-04-23 11:21
What it’s about:

Gabriel Noone’s (Robin Williams) life is falling apart. The radio show host’s relationship with his live-in partner Jess (Bobby Cannavale) is on the rocks. When his biggest fan, a 14 year-old author (Rory Culkin), with the help of his adoptive mother Donna (Toni Collette), begins calling him, his life is changed forever. Questions are raised about the boy’s identity and Noone’s relationships with the boy and those around him.

What we thought of it:

Robin Williams must feel embarrassed about ever accepting this script. It could have been a good idea were it not predictable and badly executed. For a thriller to be truly thrilling it has to be believable.

In this dramatic role, Williams’ portrayal of a gay character seems uncomfortable and out of place. This is surprising, since his performance in The Birdcage was so well executed. As a result a skilful Bobby Cannavale, who executes his small supporting role very well, overshadows him. Toni Collette, an accomplished actress, does the best job she can under the circumstances. She is compelling and at times creepy, but cannot save this picture.

There is also the problem of the shoddy editing. In several instances the cut from one scene to the other is so sudden and confusing it takes five minutes of pondering to figure out what the purpose of the cut was, by which time all the suspense has disappeared.

The weak script doesn’t help the movie either. It’s so predictable, a 14 year-old child could have written it. The characters reveal the spoiler less than 30 minutes into the movie, but by then it’s too late, because the audience had already figured it out. From then on the movie goes nowhere but down.

When it does, eventually, stumble to its conclusion The Night Listener fails to offer any real closure, leaving the viewer with a lot of unanswered questions. By attempting to follow the footsteps of The Sixth Scene, The Night Listener has fallen flat.

- Nomfundo Mbaba-Tshabalala
A thriller so predictable a 14-year-old could have written it. What was Robin Williams thinking?

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