The Night Listener (2006)

Rated R. Our ratings: V-1; L- 2; S/N-1. Running time: 1 hour 22 min.

Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
and the man who gets understanding,
for the gain from it is better than gain from silver
and its profit better than gold.
Proverbs 3:13-14

The Night Listener

Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams) has achieved a small amount of fame as a radio storyteller, calling his program “Noone at Night.” However, as his gay partner Jess (Bobby Cannavale) decides to move out, Gabrielle finds his writer’s well running dry. Maybe due to the fact that he mines his own life and that of his friends for interesting stories to tell. When given a book manuscript by 14 year-old Pete D. Logand (Rory Culkin) to critique, Gabrielle’s creative juices flow again.

The boy chronicles a remarkable series of events that include sexual abuse by his father and a struggle with AIDS. The book shows remarkable telent for a young teenager. He also purports to be a fan of Gabriel’s radio show, so Gabriel calls the boy, talking with him and his mother Donna (Toni Collette). The telephone calls grow in warmth and intimacy, even though the boy and his mother live far away in Wisconsin. Then a gnawing doubt arises due to a perceived similarity between the voices of mother and son. Does Peter really exist? Is this why the mother is so evasive about Gabriel’s coming to meet him?

The film grows ever more creepy when Gabriel does fly from Manhattan in an attempt to track down the boy. But in the town he runs into a protective stonewall when he asks about the boy. The resolution of his search and his doubts might be a letdown, but that Gabriel is a bit wiser at the end, there is no doubt. As to the proverb’s promise of happiness, Gabriel perhaps still has a way to go.