I know lots of people who work in radio, but still often find myself wondering about some of the on-air talent I regularly listen to. Have you ever tried to guess what they look like, before looking for their photo on a website? Are they more polite and professional when they're broadcasting? Is their everyday life a reflection of their radio personality, or are they altogether different in person? Is their on-air persona an extension of their reality or a complete fabrication?

Consider the reverse perspective—the callers that these radio personalities interact with—and the same questions generally apply. Are they genuine or are they simply looking to get on air? Do they have a reason or passion for calling, or do they simply crave the attention? Who are these people phoning in with requests and opinions, and what are their motivations?

It's this somewhat hazy perception of reality unique to radio (and also writing) that inspires The Night Listener, based on the novel by Armistead Maupin, who co-wrote the screenplay with Terry Anderson and director Patrick Stettner. The film's being marketed as a thriller in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, but really it's closer in tone to the work of David Mamet—a quiet, sometimes compelling mystery in the tradition of House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner, and Spartan.

Robin Williams returns to his serious side of acting as Gabriel Noone, an acclaimed author working as a late-night NPR-styled radio host ("Noone at Night") discussing books and reading stories on his program. But his work is suffering, uninspired by his radio work and not having written anything new in years. On top of that, his younger aged boyfriend Jess (Bobby Cannavale) is moving out and considering ...

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The Night Listener
Our Rating
2½ Stars - Fair
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Mpaa Rating
R (for language and some disquieting sexual content)
Genre
Directed By
Patrick Stettner
Run Time
1 hour 31 minutes
Cast
Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Joe Morton, Bobby Cannavale
Theatre Release
August 04, 2006 by Miramax Films
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