Sunday, October 3, 2010

Short Review: The Messenger (Oren Moverman, 2009)

The Messenger is a powerful, well observed drama that captures the raw human emotions of the relatives of war veterans in various states; ranging from joy at their loved ones returning home from military service as heroes, or aggravating and often difficult-to-watch heartbreak when they are revealed of their deaths in the line of duty. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), William Montgomery (Ben Foster) is assigned to the Army's Casualty Notification Service, whose task is to present the news of the death of a soldier to their next of kin. Overcome with grief, many of the relatives inflict verbal and often violent abuse on the pair, who must relay the information void of personal feeling, contact or retaliation. The script is excellent and there are incredible accomplished performances from Foster (Six Feet Under, 3:10 to Yuma) and Harrelson (most recently No Country for Old Men and Zombieland). These guys really shared some brilliant sequences, and Harrelson rightly was honored with an Oscar nomination. Often questioning the others' passion for the role and it's impact on their sanity and exchanging conflicts at Montgomery's rejection of the established protocol when he falls for a recently widowed mother. They are often at the forefront to the sudden unraveling of people's lives, when they themselves are hanging onto the unraveled decay of their own lives, also as a result of their service in the military. They receive great support from Samantha Morton and Steve Buscemi. This is one of the most poignant emotional dramas of the year, and most certainly the best acted.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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