THE NIGHT LISTENER NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Monica H. who says... "It's billed as a thriller, but it's really more of a mood piece--though Toni Collette's impeccable acting does result in some creepy moments."
Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams) is the host of a New York City radio station show. “Noone at Night” is a midnight program in which Noone tells stories that are largely drawn from his life experiences.
One day, he’s unable to finish a recording session. He says the story is no good, and walks out mid-tape. He’s stopped outside the building by Ashe, his good friend and an editor at a publishing house. Ashe notes that Gabe hasn’t been doing wellthat this is the fifth time he’s left a session. Gabe tries to brush him off, but Ashe says he has something he think will help. He gives Gabe an unpublished manuscript to read. The book is a memoir written by a 14-year-old named Peter Logand, who was sexually abused by his parents for years before being rescued and adopted by a social worker. Ashe says that Pete is a huge fan of Gabe’s show, and he thinks that they can help each other through their rough times.
When Gabe gets back to his brownstone, we find out what Ashe meant by “rough times.” Jess, Gabe’s partner of ten years, has just moved out. He’s there collecting some things when Gabe gets home. Jess says it’s just temporary, but we sense that it’s not. Gabe is comforted by his accountant/friend Anna, who’s stopped by to do some paperwork.
Alone and missing Jess that evening, Gabe picks up Pete’s book and reads it. He’s impressed. Just as he’s finishing it, the phone rings. It’s Pete, who says that Ashe gave him Gabe’s phone number. They chat for awhile, and you can tell that Gabe really likes the kid. Then, suddenly, Pete has a coughing fit and has to get off the phone. Donna (Toni Collette), his social worker/adoptive mom picks up. She tells Gabe that Pete is dying of AIDS.
Over the next few weeks, Gabe and Pete talk almost every day. Pete says he can’t meet any girls because he’s so sick, so Gabe sends him some issues of Playboy. They talk about life, and Jess, and really begin to bond. One afternoon, Gabe is talking to Donna and Pete while Jess is over picking up more things. Gabe puts the two on speaker phone so that Jess can say hello. After Gabe hangs up the phone, Jess has a strange look on his face. He tells Gabe that he’s sorry to be the one to say it, but he thinks that Donna and Pete are the same personthey’re voices sound identical, Pete’s is just a little higher. Gabe gets angry and Jess leaves.
Gabe can’t stop thinking about what Jess said, and enlists the help of Anna to do some research. They can’t find a record of Peter or Donna Logand on any public records. Gabe calls Ashe, and asks if Ashe has ever spoken to anyone who knows Donna or Pete. Ashe says no, but that everything can be explained”Pete” isn’t the kid’s real name, it’s just one that he took up so his parents couldn’t find him. Pete and Donna sound alike because Pete’s picked up her vocal patterns.
Ashe gets a seed of doubt that makes him decide not to publish the book after all.
Gabe feels guilty about that after Donna invites him to Wisconsin for Christmas with her and Petesurely, he must be real. But a few days later, she rescinds the invitation, saying that Pete is too sick for visitors.
Determined to learn the truth, Gabe flies to Wisconsin anyway. When he gets to the town, he learns that the return address of Pete’s letters is a P.O. Box, and the mail clerk won’t tell him where Pete actually lives. Discouraged, he goes to a diner for some dinner. While there, he overhears a woman say something that reminds him of Pete, so he decides to follow her out of the diner. Turns out, the woman is blind and goes back to her house with the help of a seeing eye dog.
She reaches her big Victorian house, and from the front yard Gabe sees a water tower that Pete has described on the phone. He thinks this must be the right place. The woman calls out to him and says “Hello, Gabe.” Yepit’s Donna. She knew he was in town because the guy at the Post Office said someone had been looking for her and Pete.
Gabe goes into the house and Donna shows him around. She takes him to Pete’s roomit definitely looks like a teenaged boy lives there. She says that Pete’s in the hospital, but that Gabe can visit him tomorrow. Gabe is excited. But later, as she’s saying goodbye, she gets angry and says that it’s Gabe’s fault that Pete’s book isn’t being published, and she won’t let Gabe see him after all. Then she calls a cab for him and makes him leave.
Gabe’s more anxious than ever to get at the truth. He tells the cab driver to take him to the nearest hospital, which it turns out is 50 miles away, in Madison. Gabe visits every hospital in Madison, but there’s no sign of Pete. He returns to the house the next morning to confront Donna, but she’s gone and the house is emptyeverything’s packed. A police officer discovers him, and takes him out to a field and beats him upit turns out that Donna’s told the police that Gabe is Pete’s father, and trying to kidnap him.
At the police station, Gabe manages to convince the cops that he’s not the bad guy, and they let him go. In the parking lot, he runs into Donna, who tells him that Pete is dead. Gabe says that Pete doesn't existhe went to every hospital in Madison. Donna says that Pete was in Milwaukee. Gabe’s had enough walks away, leaving Donna by the side of the road.
Back in New York, Donna is phoning Gabe dozens of times a day. Gabe never picks up, until finally some friends urge him to see what she wants to say. He answers the phone and she tells him that there is proof that Pete is real in a hotel room at the New York airport, and all Gabe has to do is go there to find out the truth.
He can’t help ithe wants to know the truth so he goes to the motel. He sees Donna leaving a room, and sneaks into it once she’s left. Lying on the bed is a videotape of a young boy. Pete. The phone rings. It’s “Pete,” trying to convince Gabe that he’s still alive. But now Gabe realizes that “Pete” is just Donna doing a higher voice. He accepts that the kid in the video isn’t Pete, and that he’ll never know who it is. He asks “Pete” if something bad happened in Donna’s childhood that made her act this way. “Pete” breaks down and starts to cry; his voice deepens and he begins to sound more like Donna. They hang up.
The last scene is Donna buying a house. She’s not blind anymore, and her hair is different. She tells the real estate agent that she’s excited to have a place for her little boy, who is very sick and just lost a leg. The real estate agent is sympathetic, and we see that Donna is the very sick one after all.
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