Review: The Listener (Tribeca 2023)

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Title: The Listener
MPA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Steve Buschemi
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Alia Shawkat, Rebecca Hall
Runtime: 1 hr 36 mins

What It Is: “Beth” (Thompson) is a helpline volunteer who every night is on the phone hours at a time trying to help and save people on the verge of self-harm, suicide and many other bad situations. Hearing the problems of the broken, the beaten and the damned. As we listen to a series of these callers on one random night we get a firsthand look at exactly what she goes through every single day on that phone.

What We Think: What a fascinating, brutally honest film. We as humans don’t talk about our loneliness, about our need to talk to others or have company of any kind. This examines that in such a way that Tessa’s “Beth” guides us through all the different ways and reasons people are lonely and the deep emotional distress they suffer from at any given time. In this Thompson is absolutely mesmerizing. She controls the screen every single minute and we the audience are entranced at her every word. As the callers come in we’re hanging on every minute of their stories listening intently much like our sole protagonist. Steve Buschemi for his role behind the camera comes fully stocked with interesting ways to frame the static location. Lighting the film in unique ways that create different looks while being the same location.

Our Grade: A-, A showstopping performance from it’s lead and only on-screen character propels this. If you want a film that sparks and simmers without boiling over violently this is your film. What a wonderful film this is. Steve Buschemi absolutely surprises here. This is going to be a film that flies under the radar but I cannot recommend this film enough. Go see it!

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