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The Night Listener Review Critics


Dave White Profile

It sinks … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Depressed and depressing drama.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    Is The Night Listener a wintry drama with a few schlocky jolts, or an underdone psychological thriller straining for some dramatic heft on the side? Hard to tell, but either way, the movie doesn't cohere.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Plays like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller but is nevertheless a movie of ideas. It bristles with intriguing thoughts about the realm of fiction, how one loves, issues of identity and questions concerning how one transfers a real-life incident into big-screen fiction. This is a film that can crawl inside your skin.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The Night Listener is by no means an example of perfect filmmaking, but it is the kind of movie that stays with you.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune

    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.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    This unconventional psychological drama weaves a fascinating tale, and Collette and Williams give two of the summer's best performances.

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  • See all The Night Listener reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Complex mystery/thriller is best for adults.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie is not for kids. It alludes to a child's sexual abuse in language and impressionistic, somewhat hectic visuals. Characters talk explicitly about sex (specifically, gay sexual activity and desire). An unhappy writer misses his boyfriend, then develops a friendship with a boy he never meets. Characters lie to one another, sometimes maliciously, sometimes out of seeming illness. A couple of arguments end in minor violence (pushing and shoving). Characters are depressed, physically ill, and mean to one another. Characters smoke cigarettes and drink.

  • Families can talk about artistic processes. How does Gabriel use his experiences to write his stories? How is his process different from or like Donna's lying? How do both characters use someone else's misfortune (illness, abuse) to gain attention for themselves? How can writing (and reading) also be a healthy, community-building process?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Writer questions his own use of other people's lives; character appears to lie about the existence of a little boy.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: During escape from authorities, Gabriel hurts his leg in a stairwell; during struggle, woman pulls man into street with her, hoping both will be hit by truck.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Brief, subjective shots from child's POV of sexual abuse in scary basement; gay couple discusses relationship using sexual and pejorative slang ("fag," "d--k-smoker"); couple of shots of a Playboy magazine.

  • language false5

    Language: Frequent uses of f-word, "s--t," "a--hole," slang for genitals and sex acts.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Background logo (Coca-Cola).

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Drinking (beer and liquor, once to drunken, self-pitying state); ashtray full of cigarettes; Gabriel smokes cigarette.