Film correspondent and Loose Lips hottie Marko has seen more films!


Features, Film | by — September 12, 2006

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The Night Listener

by Marko Domazet

Amen! Finally a film starring Robin Williams that doesn’t make you want to slap him across his silly face. Throw in a crazy woman, an eerie Wisconsin town and you’ve got yourself the thriller that is The Night Listener. This mofo is structured around the basic Hitchcockian principles of tension building – that is, where you take a straightforward situation and let the characters fuck it up. In this case, you take one radio talk show host (Williams), have him befriend an Aids sufferer (Rory Culkin), throw in an adoptive mother (Toni Collette) and let the games begin. Sounds fun, huh?

From the obvious opening sequence (very Vertigo!) to the slow build up, this is a film based on less is more. It’s all about the twists and turns in the plot (of which I can’t tell you much for fear of ruining it!). There isn’t a great deal of violence, foul language or fast pacing and The Night Listener benefits greatly from that. Although it would have been the easy way to go the director never exposes us to the visual horror elements of the story. This works, making The Night Listener a film where, through other devices, a few scenes get under your skin – and stay there.

Another thing that puts this film above average is the acting. As mentioned before, Robin Williams appears sane and chooses not to bounce around like a piece of flubber. I wouldn’t exactly call his performance moving, but he gives a convincing portrayal of a confused, slightly disillusioned man. Yes, the whole gay element made me cringe slightly, but I think that has to do with my view that ugly gay men over the age of 50 should be locked up and kept out of my view. Also, I find it disturbing that the Williams character is supposed to be having a relationship with the yummy Bobby Cannavale (yes, the guy from SATC with the funky tasting spunk). Now, I’m all for some gay lovin’, but how the hell are you meant to feel for a principal character if he’s nothing but a sugar daddy?

Fortunately, The Night Listener also features the wonderful Toni Collette who completely steals the show. We don’t want to give too many details away, but the lady pulls of a hell of a performance by, well, not really doing a whole lot and we all know you need to be a great thespian to do that convincingly.
The Night Listener is a good, solid thriller but it would have benefited from omitting the love relationship between the central male characters. I see how introducing a gay couple brings a new twist to the story and can result in more drama, but I personally do not see the point of a central love relationship if it is not dealt with properly. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – unless you are making a Bollywood film that has to appeal to your entire immediate family of 13 people, you do not need to try and put EVERYTHING into a film. If you’re making a thriller, make a thriller and leave it at that.

The verdict? Despite a few glitches and a sugar daddy Williams, The Night Listener is a solid piece of work and, if I may say so myself, an excellent way to spend one of those cold nights that are just around the corner.

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