Radio host Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams) investigates the identity of a terminally ill caller (Rory Culkin), who Gabriel suspects may be a figment of a woman's (Toni Collette) imagination. Meanwhile, Gabriel tries not to think about his longtime boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale), who has suddenly moved out. Inspired by true events.
Big question: Does Williams (an Oscar winner for "Good Will Hunting") have another impressive dramatic performance in him?
Catch it: "The Night Listener" is not so much a heart-pounding thriller as one man's odyssey to verify that the love and friendship he believes in were ever real. It's an affecting study of who people become after a part of them dies, whether they are abused children or broken-hearted lovers.
Skip it: If you'll be tempted to deceive a radio personality. People who don't really exist can't win free concert tickets!
Bottom line: Several characters are underdeveloped, and the only thing mysterious about this mystery is why we have to keep enduring explorations of split personality disorder. But "The Night Listener" features a chilling mood and an excellent turn from Williams, finding both frailty and strength in a man desperately searching for answers as his world gradually implodes.
Bonus: Good news for anyone who thought "The Ring" was a documentary: Gabriel watches an unmarked tape in hopes of finding out the truth, and he doesn't die a week later!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'The Night Listener'
Directed by Patrick Stettner; screenplay by Armistead Maupin, Terry Anderson and Stettner, based on the novel by Maupin; cinematography by Lisa Rinzler; edited by Andy Keir; production design by Michael Shaw; music by Peter Nashel; produced by Robert Kessel, Jeff Sharp, John Hart and Jill Footlick. A Miramax Films release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:22. MPAA rating: R (for language and some disquieting sexual content).
Gabriel Noone - Robin Williams
Donna D. Logand - Toni Collette
Jess - Bobby Cannavale
Pete D. Logand - Rory Culkin
Anna - Sandra Oh
Ashe - Joe MortonCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times