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The Night Listener (2006)

TOMATOMETER

Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 134
Fresh: 54 | Rotten: 80

Critics Consensus: This psychological thriller compels by blurring the line between truth and fiction; unfortunately, the film itself gets muddled in a hazy account of Maupin's original novel.

29%
Average Rating: 5.1/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 24

Critics Consensus: This psychological thriller compels by blurring the line between truth and fiction; unfortunately, the film itself gets muddled in a hazy account of Maupin's original novel.

AUDIENCE SCORE

Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 92,738

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Movie Info

A man whose life has been touched by tragic illness is drawn into the life of another victim whose story has an unsettling twist in this drama. Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams) is a radio talk show host who has developed a loyal following for his deeply personal on-air monologues, many of which deal with his relationship with his companion Jess (Bobby Cannavale), who is HIV-positive and struggling with his health. When Jess' condition improves, he surprises Gabriel by announcing he needs his space … More

Rating:
R (for language and some disquieting sexual content)
Genre:
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Armistead Maupin , Terry Anderson , Patrick Stettner
In Theaters:
On DVD:
Jan 9, 2007
Box Office:
$7.8M
Runtime:
Miramax - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for The Night Listener

All Critics (139) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (54) | Rotten (80) | DVD (16)

This thriller about books, belief and betrayal covers topical terrain -- JT LeRoy and James Frey, anyone? -- but itself proves unbelievable.

Full Review… | October 7, 2006
Salon.com
Top Critic

The plot dawdles along, intrigue gives way to risible melodrama, and [director] Patrick Stettner fails to get to grips with the issues.

Full Review… | September 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The pacing and staging of the later scenes could use a little more electricity and momentum, and a little less restraint. Yet The Night Listener keeps you watching. And listening.

Full Review… | August 9, 2006
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

A quietly disturbing and effectively haunting little gem.

Full Review… | August 7, 2006
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

Williams delivers a solid, twinkle-free (though closed-off) performance, but the film as a whole can't decide what it wants to be.

Full Review… | August 5, 2006
AV Club
Top Critic

The movie might make for a good book, but it's too awkward and lacks the necessary action for a film. And Williams' rather sluggish approach doesn't help much. Eventually, we just aren't interested in tagging along with him.

Full Review… | August 5, 2006
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

The film's over-leveraged plot imparts diminishing results as its predictable revelation arrives with an unsatisfying anticlimax.

Full Review… | April 21, 2009
ColeSmithey.com

The Night Listener shamelessly jerks its audence this way and that, until it arrives at its lacklustre anti-climactic conclusion.

Full Review… | February 2, 2009
tonymacklin.net

Even at 82 minutes, the film seems padded out, spinning its wheels and generating no suspense once the central, easily answered question is introduced.

Full Review… | August 25, 2007
TheMovieReport.com

One of those films where it's easy to recognize something's going on and there's interesting intentions but it just never comes together.

Full Review… | June 21, 2007
Calgary Movies

The talents of Williams and Collette are wasted in this ultimately silly psychological thriller that aspires to explore the line dividing perception from reality,"

Full Review… | March 16, 2007
Urban Cinefile

...effectively captures the essence of the novel without slavishly adhering to its every nuance...

Full Review… | March 10, 2007
Reel Film Reviews

A somber storyline, empty scares and a deceptive ending are not likely to spell box-office success.

Full Review… | March 1, 2007
Film Journal International

A strange and creepy film about lonely people who are more than a little crazy.

Full Review… | January 19, 2007
Laramie Movie Scope

A small suspense-thriller to scratch your Hitchcockian itch.

Full Review… | January 11, 2007
cinemaobsession.com

...never got me involved enough with its main character or its supporting characters to make me feel one way or another about them or their predicaments.

Full Review… | January 8, 2007
Movie Metropolis

Seemingly looking for a M. Night Shyamalan moment.

Full Review… | December 2, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

While the film claims to be based on real-life events in the life of author Armistead Maupin, there are more than a couple of sequences that strain credibility, causing the audience to question its veracity.

Full Review… | October 1, 2006
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Robin Williams's face is permanently on its smiling-through-emotional-pain setting.

Full Review… | September 23, 2006
Guardian

The Night Listener is intriguing, thought-provoking and harrowing by turns, with fine central and supporting performances and a richly satisfying feel.

Full Review… | September 23, 2006
Empire Magazine

You should find this watchable and moderately clever; it's just a shame that it tries to sound weighty about truth and love, instead of getting on with being scary.

Full Review… | September 23, 2006
Independent

However, the film brushes over certain elements of the book (most notably Gabriel's relationship with his partner) and shies away from its more important themes (AIDS, child abuse etc), leaving the equivalent of a sanitised TV version of the book.

Full Review… | September 23, 2006
ViewLondon

Maupin has, in the past, penned many yarns in which suspense and sentiment have had a quirky and efficacious symbiosis. Here, there is virtually no suspense -- only sentiment.

Full Review… | August 21, 2006

There's absolutely nothing wrong with this movie that a good story wouldn't fix.

Full Review… | August 20, 2006
Cinema Signals

Audience Reviews for The Night Listener

The Night Listener is relatively short and sweet really. It's based on true events and is believable throughout. I respect the fact that the twist wasn't taken too far, many found it an anti-climax but I thought they did well to handle it the way that they did. Robin Williams is likable and a good actor which was probably a clever bit of casting but it is Toni Collette's performance that impresses the most. It's not amazing but it goes against many of the cliched and formulaic thrillers of late and it handles the psychological aspect of the story properly and with understanding.

SirPant
Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

The concept is good, but there's nothing beyond that here. Direction, acting, screenplay, background score: everything seemed too phony and quite ineffective here. There are too many inconsistencies in the movie and I couldn't help feeling distracted and, at times, bored. If you're suffering from insomnia, The Night Listener might be of some use to you.

imrealgod
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

Not very good at all. Very slow film with very little happening in it all based around one plot idea. Based on true events, however at 76 mins long there just isn't enough to interest you.

Deano78
Dean !

Super Reviewer

½

"Listen for the truth."

In the midst of his crumbling relationship, a radio show host begins speaking to his biggest fan, a young boy, via the telephone. But when questions about the boy's identity come up, the host's life is thrown into chaos.

REVIEW
Written by Armistead Maupin (who co-wrote the screenplay with his former lover Terry Anderson and the film's novice director Stettner) and based on a true story about a fan's hoax found out has some Hitchcockian moments that run on full tilt like any good old fashioned pot-boiler does. It helps that Williams gives a stand-out, low-key performance as the conflicted good-hearted personality who genuinely wants to believe that his number one fan is in fact real and does love him (the one thing that has escaped his own reality) and has some unsettling dreadful moments with the creepy Collette whose one physical trait I will leave unmentioned but underlines the desperation of her character that can rattle you to the core.

LorenzoVonMatterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

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