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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Night Listener

A strange tale of obsession and compulsion

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 10, 2007 -- This is a strange and creepy film about lonely people who are more than a little crazy. Based on a novel by Armistead Maupin, the story quickly descends into a nightmare world where nothing quite makes sense. The truth is elusive and slippery always just out of the grasp of the characters, or the viewers.

Robin Williams of “Insomnia” stars as Gabriel Noone, an author with writer's block and a radio show that he is having a hard time dealing with. His lover, Jess (Bobby Cannavale of “The Station Agent”) has just left him for another man and he is getting behind on his recorded material for the radio show. Then he comes across an intriguing manuscript by a young writer detailing a very troubled life. He feels a kinship to this young boy, Pete D. Logand (played by Rory Culkin of “Signs”) and wants to meet him after talking to him on the phone. Then he begins to suspect that there is something wrong about this boy. He can't quite put his finger on what is wrong with the story, but it is something he feels compelled to explore.

Noone travels to Wisconsin where the boy lives, but no one will cooperate in his quest to meet the boy. In fact, some are openly hostile. Noone's life might be in danger. The boy's mother, Donna D. Logand (Toni Collette of “Little Miss Sunshine”) and the entire town, are very secretive and protective of the boy. The sense of doom and danger build throughout the movie as the determined Noone is threatened and tortured during his painful quest to find the boy. Noone senses what is going on, but can never seem to find the proof he needs. It is always elusive, just dancing out of reach.

The quest for the mysterious boy seems to become an obsession for Noone. He seems to believe that solving this mystery will put things right in his own life. This film is a good character study and it sets its creepy tone with real artistry. However, the plot rests on a fairly slight premise, and it lacks much of an emotional payoff. It also looks more like a stage play than a movie. The sets and location shots are limited, and so are the number of characters in the story. Shot in subdued colors and dim light, including wintry, bleak landscapes and a drab, colorless little town, the tone of the film filled with ominous and foreboding overtones. It is almost a two-person show like “Sleuth.” The acting is excellent by a very capable cast, especially Williams and Collette. Also appearing in the film are Sandra Oh of “Sideways,” John Cullum of “The Notorious Betty Page,” and Lisa Emery of “Unfaithful.” This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics, theater tickets and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2007 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)