Parents' Guide to

The Night Listener

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Complex mystery/thriller is best for adults.

Movie R 2006 82 minutes
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Initially clever and provocative, The Night Listener ends up seeming clumsy. A mystery story based on an Armistad Maupin novel, it's "inspired by true events," which means it's twice derived, based on a fictionalization of Maupin's own experiences. This makes for an intriguing focus on the artist's practice, as he makes up and also uses the lives of others; the film asks when this process turns selfish, and perhaps more importantly, self-deluding.

Tapping into recent public outrages over writers who lie (for instance, J.T. LeRoy and James Frey), the film's indictments are drearily unsubtle. Though the wonderful Sandra Oh, as Gabriel's accountant, provides welcome wit and level-headedness amid the hubbub, she's not on-screen nearly enough. She makes you realize that The Night Listener could have been sharper, and less dreary.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: August 4, 2006
  • On DVD or streaming: July 19, 2022
  • Cast: Robin Williams , Sandra Oh , Toni Collette
  • Director: Patrick Stettner
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors, Asian actors
  • Studio: Miramax
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Run time: 82 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: language and some disquieting sexual content
  • Last updated: October 14, 2022

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