Rated: PG-13
Release Date: 03/29/2024
Production Company: Vertical Entertainment

Tessa Thompson.

Director: Steve Buscemi. Producers: Steve Buscemi, Tessa Thompson, Lauren Hantz, Kat Barnette, Brian Miele, Oren Moverman, Billy Mulligan, Joyce Pierpoline. Executive Producers: John Hantz, Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman and Suzanne Warren. Screenwriters: Alessandro Camon. Cinematographer:
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

In "The Listener," from director Steve Buscemi (TV's "Krapopolis") and screenwriter Alessandro Camon ("Bullet to the Head" and "The Messenger"), Tessa Thompson ("Creed IV") goes it alone and delivers an enthralling and finely nuanced solo performance as a helpline phone volunteer named Beth. Her portrayal draws viewers into the emotional complexities of her character.

We don't get to know much about Beth (Thompson) other than she lives alone with her dog and takes her job seriously. It's not a gig for just anyone, but Beth sure seems to have mastered the art of talking with lonely, depressed and anxious people from all walks of life. They call her late at night and talk and talk and talk.

She listens carefully and offers sincere empathy to their situations for the duration of her 90 minutes shift.
Some of the callers include Michael (Logan Marshall-Green, "Lou"), an ex-con struggling to adjust to his newfound freedom. There is a teen male who hates women (Ricky Velez, "The King of Staten Island"), Ray, (Jamie Hector, TV's "Bosch: Legacy"), a veteran suffering from PTSD, a bipolar woman named Sharon (Alia Shawkat, TV's "Summer Camp Island"), and Corrine (Margaret Cho, TV's "Life & Beth"), a mother with a special needs daughter.

Their stories are depressing and even frightening. We completely understand when Beth tells a caller that she's quitting this job at the end of the month. We don't know really why and can only assume that all the doom and gloom conversations have taken a toll on her.

What's interesting about "The Listener" is as you're watching this movie, there's an added layer of suspense because you're thinking that maybe it will take a twisted, dark and dramatic turn. However, it stays the course for the most part.

Not many callers can rattle Beth, although they do try. Like when Laura (Rebecca Hall, "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire") threatens to kill herself because she's fed up with society.

Laura wants Beth to convince her that life is still worth living. The women dive deep into politics, religion and philosophy. All the while Beth maintains a level-headed approach. As she exposes more of herself, we witness her questioning and reassessing her own life.

I would imagine, Thompson's, acting in "The Listener" is as challenging as any involving a full cast. With no ensemble to rely on, Thompson carries the entire film through body language, voice, and pure emotion and she does it quite well.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 5:17 p.m. and 6:47 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Look At This Trailer For "THE LISTENER"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.


Year Released: 1975
Running Time: 109
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Berry Gordy, Tony Richardson and Jack Wormser
Director of Photography: David Watkin
Screenwriter: John Byrum and Toni Amber
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you? Where are you going to?
Do you know?
Do you get what you're hoping for? When you look behind you, there's no open doors. What are you hoping for? Do you know? "Theme from Mahogany...
The "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" was sung by Diana Ross in the 1975 movie "Mahogany." But, who initially recorded the song in 1973?
"Roberta Flack"
"Natalie Cole"
"Deniece Williams"
"Thelma Houston"