The story on which Armistead Maupin based his novel and now film THE NIGHT LISTENER proves the old axiom that truth is stranger than fiction. When I spoke to him and to the director of the film, Patrick Stettner, on July 26, 2006, I was curious what conclusions they had drawn about the human capacity to fool itself and to cling to an illusion in the face of reality. The answers were insightful, and in the case of a close encounter with Mr. Rogers, surrealistically funny.
How much of what someone thinks is reality can survive the objectivity test? That’s the question posed in THE NIGHT LISTENER, based on a real-life experience and later a novel by Armistead Maupin, which ponders how perception and raw need have a nasty habit superseding everything else. The answer is an engrossing thriller that probes the human psyche and is coy about giving up its secrets too easily.
The mystery of THE NIGHT LISTENER deepens with every shadowy frame, abetted by an elegant, edgy mood that works on both conscious and subliminal levels, creating in the viewer the same tension and sense of foreboding Gabriel experiences throughout. Haunting, maddening, and ultimately addressing more than the merely mundane question of who Pete is, this is a powerful little gem as hard-boiled as Hammett, but with the absolute compassion that it summons up for all the tortured creatures on display, it also has the soul of St Francis.