The Night Listener

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.



Reviews Counted: 134

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 92,837


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 2.8/5

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Movie Info

A troubled radio talk show host's desperate attempt to contact the ailing teenage author of a disturbing manuscript leads him to a shocking series of revelations in director Patrick Stettner's big-screen adaptation of Armistead Maupin's controversial novel. Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams) is a popular radio talk show host whose turbulent personal life has become little more than fodder for the airwaves. Night after night, Gabriel shamelessly sits behind the microphone documenting the deteriorating health of his HIV-infected boyfriend Jess (Bobby Cannavale) to a rapt audience of loyal listeners. When Jess' health unexpectedly improves and he decides to break off the relationship in order to embrace his newfound independence, Gabriel soon finds that the sudden elimination of his most personal subject matter has left him with little means of relating to his audience. Subsequently handed a shocking, autobiographical manuscript by his publisher friend Ashe (Joe Morton) documenting the harrowing home life of a 14-year-old, AIDS-afflicted fan named Pete Logand (Rory Culkin), Gabriel soon receives a telephone call from a person claiming to be Pete, and the two strike up a fast friendship. The conversations between the pair ever more frequently punctuated by reports from Pete's overprotective stepmother, Donna (Toni Collette), concerning the teen's rapidly deteriorating health, Gabriel's growing suspicion that a literary hoax is in the making prove enough cause for the hesitant the publishing house that employs Ashe to back away from a lucrative distribution deal. Now, as the guilt of sinking a potentially lucrative deal for the long-suffering child begins to weigh down on Gabriel's increasingly frail shoulders, the guilt-ridden radio host boards a plane for the Logands small-town Wisconsin home to solve the strange mystery once and for all.

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Robin Williams
as Gabriel Noone
Toni Collette
as Donna Logand
Rory Culkin
as Pete Logand
John Cullum
as Pap Noone
Lisa Emery
as Darlie Noone
Meg Gibson
as Friend
James Stankunas
as Boy in Hospital
Guenia Lemos
as Neighbor
Nick Gregory
as Flight Attendant
Marcia Haufrecht
as Pant Suited Woman
Ed Jewett
as Mail Clerk
Hal Robinson
as Male Friend No. 1
Keith Reddin
as Male Friend No. 2
Mark Jacoby
as Male Realtor
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News & Interviews for The Night Listener

Critic Reviews for The Night Listener

All Critics (134) | Top Critics (36)

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

    Oct 7, 2006
  • Robin Williams's face is permanently on its smiling-through-emotional-pain setting.

    Sep 23, 2006 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • The plot dawdles along, intrigue gives way to risible melodrama, and [director] Patrick Stettner fails to get to grips with the issues.

    Sep 23, 2006 | Full Review…

    Nigel Floyd

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • All roads lead to dead ends, in dramatic and investigative terms.

    Aug 15, 2006 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 9, 2006 | Rating: 3/4
  • A quietly disturbing and effectively haunting little gem.

    Aug 7, 2006

Audience Reviews for The Night Listener

A creepy and unsettling film. Robin Williams' performance was excellently suited to the character in this suspense film. I only wish we could have seen more of Sandra Oh.

Christian C
Christian C

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.

familiar stranger
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.

Dean King
Dean King

Super Reviewer


"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.

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.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

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