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Movie Review – The Night Listener (2006)

Ugur Akinci
 


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Gabriel Noone, an aging gay radio talk show host in Manhattan, who makes a living by telling riveting stories half made-up and half true, stumbles upon the mystery of a devastating autobiography sent in by mail to a literary agent friend of his. The author is a very articulate 14-year old boy, or so it seems.

The boy claims he had been *** abused by his parents and their friends while he was growing up, and he had caught AIDS and maimed for life.

His scandalous book is scheduled to be published just when. . . Gabriel's ex-lover Jess smells something fishy. . .

Both the boy and his caretaker step-mother do call Gabriel at his home to chat. Sometimes they leave phone messages too when Gabriel is either not at home or prefers just to take messages.

To Gabriel's considerable distress, Jess suggests that the 14-year old boy and his “mom” could very well be one and the same person!

(The story is actually said to be based on a series of similar events lived by the writer Armistead Maupin and his former partner Terry Anderson with whom he shared screenplay credits. )

A lonely man of great compassion, Gabriel Noone makes it his duty to actually find out this ailing boy in order to be a source of inspiration and hope for him, and also perhaps to use the story – if only he can verify it - to boost up his failing radio show.

He jumps on a plane and flies to Madison, Wisconsin, to track down the return address printed on the letters sent to his Manhattan address by the “boy. ” He eventually tracks down the “mom, ” a blind woman in her forties, who claims the boy is at the hospital, fighting for his life. Gabriel's attempts to see the boy in all the hospitals around does not yield any results.

After several scenes of cat-and-mouse play, a crestfallen Gabriel returns to NYC, disgusted with his gullibility on the one hand, and his genuine concern for the abused boy, on the other, even if the boy is nothing more than the blind woman's figment of imagination.

An interesting mental thriller following the 3-act structure. But the real story involves the aging radio talk show host's loneliness and his search for love and care in a screwed up world. He knows what he wants but the world continues to frustrate his longing for a meaningful and compassionate relationship through lies and deception. The fact that the people around him usually believe in their own elaborate stories and half-truths does not make the task of living through them any easier for Gabriel.

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Ugur Akinci, Ph. D. is a writer with 20 years of experience. He is available for a wide variety of freelance assignments. Visit his web site http://www.writer111.com for more information on his services.

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