I will not reiterate the plot of The Messenger; it has been done exhaustively already. The relevant facts, to me, are: This movie is a work of art in which the intentions of the director, writer, cinematographer and actors are all united. The actors, especially leads Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton, give subtle, nuanced performances. The plot is not cookie-cutter; you cannot guess what is going to happen at every turn. It is serious at its core but is not devoid of humor.Lately, I have been happier with the older movies I see on cable than the movies showing in theaters. This <more>
I'm normally pretty hesitant about watching movies that have to do with war, but I'm glad that I chose to watch The Messenger. The movie took a completely different stance than what I'm used to when watching a movie about war. I never really thought about the people that had to deliver the message about a loved one that died in the military, and the way the story is told made me really care for the characters and feel for Harrelson's and Foster's characters and the important job that they have to perform. I would never want to have to do their job, but I truly respect the <more>
people that have to perform that job on a daily basis. Harrelson, Foster and Samantha Morton put on really powerful performances that I honestly believed. And the rest of the cast did a fine job, as well. The emotion was so intense that I could feel it, and I easily got sucked into the story. It was a powerful movie that really made me think about the hardships in a sincere and thoughtful way. Overall, I enjoyed the film and I will continue recommending it to all my friends because I think everybody should watch it at least once. The story sticks with you long after you finish watching the movie.
"We navigate", Capt. Tony Stone Woody Harrelson instructs his new recruit on the Casualty Notification Team, Sgt. Will Montgomery Ben Foster . But how does a shattered man begin to negotiate the grief of strangers, when he can barely fathom his own?Oren Moverman's penetrating debut employs bare-bones camera-work and a subdued colour palette, putting the focus on the dialogue. Co-written by Moverman, the script is by turns singularly intimate and universal, compounded by stirring lead performances. A decorated soldier returning home from Iraq to convalesce from IED incurred <more>
shrapnel wounds, Will realises that the final three months of his tour will be the hardest. With the strategic aim of being the first to deliver the news, the two men come to rely on each other, eventually letting their emotions surface in an intensely moving relationship.Stone is possessed of a wry, often unsavoury humour which assists in masking his own insecurities and handling the job at hand with the intended clinical etiquette. Will struggles to maintain a similar detachment, seeking comfort in recently widowed Olivia Samantha Morton , who describes having lost her husband to a war which consumed him with 'rage and fear'. This resonates in Will's search for purpose and connection, and deliverance from the memories that haunt him. At times the articulation of emotion is unbearably raw, yet Moverman leaves us to draw our own conclusions - more is said about the casualties of war in Will's piercing, broken stare than in any regurgitated army spiel. 5 out of 5Cambridge Film Festival Daily
NOT a war movie; NOT a movie about an ethical dilemma (by ppazniokas)
I was fortunate enough to see this at the recent NY Drama Critics showcase, where both the director Mr. Moverman and a co-star Woody Harrelson participated in after-show Q&A. First of all, the film is superb - but the summaries I've seen so far do not do justice to what the movie is really about. Sure there are ethical dilemmas, sure there are soldiers who have returned from Iraq. But the great strength of this film is its focus on individual human beings and their reaction to humans' most important concerns: life, death and love. Oren Moverman - accomplishing this so <more>
beautifully, accurately and subtly in a small-budget film - is to be congratulated. Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Samantha Morton are all magically on the same wavelength in their performances. And the writing by Camon and Moverman acknowledges the fact that reasonably intelligent people might be watching... people who don't need every little detail spelled out. Oh yes - I should mention that there's a lot of humor interspersed throughout. The result of all this? The people you meet in this film will stay with you for a very long time - and you'll be glad for that.
Powerful with fantastic performances (by Red_Identity)
The Messenger is being overshadowed by other war films like The Hurt Locker, yet it is different and a great film. It has a very slow pace, but it has some incredibly powerful scenes and some amazing acting. Woody Harrelson is getting Oscar buzz for his performance, and he does deserve it. He has had a great year, with this and Zombieland. As great as he was, though, Ben Foster is just as great. Samantha Morton is probably better than both because she possesses a subtle and powerful gesture that only she has. I have only seen her in one other film, Synecdoche, New York, and she plays <more>
completely different types of personalities in both. Here, she is very quiet, but she is able to portray the reason why Foster's character is intrigued by her. The job that Stone and Montgomery Foster and Harrelson have is very difficult to do, and this is the first film to portray a job like that that I have seen. The director and writer did a great job. One of the flaws is that by the ending the film has no real directional focus, and this is a flaw in the screenplay. However, still a great film that should be seen not just for Harrelson but for the entire cast. Don't let the subject matter turn you away
THE MESSENGER is by far and away one of the best works of art that addresses the deep tragedy behind the current U.S. war in the Middle East that I've seen. THE MESSENGER is an attempt by Director Oren Moverman and screen writer Alessandro Camon to place themselves between the ears of two career soldiers who serve a vital place in U.S. Army Special Services, Casualty Notification teams who inform the families of soldiers that their family member has been killed in battle. As someone who remembers full well the devastating feeling you got in your insides when you saw these teams turn up at <more>
the quarters of friends and their families when my own father was serving in Vietnam in the late 1960s, I found the film an important effort.Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery Ben Foster is a Iraqi war veteran recovering from a battlefield wound who is reassigned to a State Department and United States Army Casualty Notification team, which is led by Captain Tony Stone Woody Harrelson . Montgomery is also facing an impending breakup with his girlfriend Kelly Jena Malone , who is playing him off against a wealthy, established suitor. When he is assigned to Stone's team, he is at first resentful. The military decorum which is demanded of the Casualty Notification Team is very exacting, with learned routines that come from a spit and polish military professionalism that requires a distance that is extremely difficult to attain. What follows is a series of well connected vignettes, in which the younger soldier is asked to stride this nether world between the jaundiced, dry-drunk outlook of the seasoned bearer of bad news, Captain Stone. Stone is a bitter man with some frustrated ambitions of his own, which are revealed late in the film. Obsessed with sexual victories and teeter tottering between professional sobriety and complete emotional collapse, Stone is far from a steady colleague mentor. Encounters between he and Montgomery go into emotional roller coaster as each man learns to accept the other on his own terms while acting out an extremely trying professional military role.In short time, Montgomery comes into contact with the widow of a soldier who sparks his interest, and becomes torn between professionalism and attraction to the young widow Olivia Pitterson Samantha Morton . Montgomery is forced to grow into himself, despite his outward cynicism, and in short time begins to mentor his mentor, Captain Stone. The story has an open ending, with Montgomery seeking to be part of the life of widow Olivia as she is seeking to reestablish herself in New Orleans. No morals are offered, and this is the true strength of the work as a whole. There isn't much humor to be found here, but watch for the scene where a bender fried Montgomery and Stone attend the wedding reception of the woman who has broken Montgomery's heart. The lampoon of upper middle class phoniness is priceless.The beauty of THE MESSENGER is that it does not fall into the usual pro war or antiwar camps that film making in an era like our own are usually so encumbered with. The film makers are ambitious and restrained. I have no idea whether the plot line is itself "contrived" as some here have argued, which I have to say is a rather ridiculous critique given that movies are rarely anything but "contrived", and this is particularly true of the genre we call the war film. Some who have written here seem to believe that the film discredits the "professionalism" of those who do the work of Stone and Montgomery, as though "professionalism" were itself some sort of fetish that protects one from emotional or mental illness generated by both war time trauma and the mystique of military culture. Such are the times in which we live, ideological blather is rampant.THE MESSENGER is important because, in the words of that great Vietnam war era politician, the late President Lyndon Baines Johnson, it is art, it shows us who we are, not who we say we are, not who we think we are, but who we are as a people, and as a political culture. At various moments, it is clunky. But it is an early effort to give some true definition about what the debacle in Iraq has done to our culture, and to the people who are expected to do the dirty work of the empire's war machine. It is a rare gem in mainstream contemporary U.S. film making.
An even-handed study of the war at home (by b1lskirnir)
I saw The Messenger as well as Oren Moverman and Ben Foster luckily at the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival and can say sincerely that I was captivated and moved by it for the majority of its runtime. No matter what your background or stance on the war, you need not worry because it is not a movie that attempts to have an opinion, but merely one that captures a different kind of war- one between civilians and the military, between following procedure and following what you believe.In his last three months of service, Officer Will Montgomery Ben Foster , is assigned to be a messenger to <more>
next-of-kins who have died in Iraq alongside the elder Lieutenant Anthony Stone Woody Harrelson . He struggles with being the bearer of bad news to heartbroken parents and wives, delivering the messages to people of all ages, ethnicities, and social classes. His work becomes compromised, however, when complications with his girlfriend arise and he becomes involved with one of the widows, challenging his ethical and moral considerations. He plays the younger, more vulnerable to Harrelson's gruff, uncompromising, and often cold ethic.The film is, in a word, compassionate, as it is almost entirely character-driven. The chemistry between Foster and Harrelson is incredible, demonstrating talent beyond the range of what one would expect for both actors. I would be very surprised if either one of these two were not nominated for an Academy Award. The cinematography is also very unusual, filmed in long takes, letting scenes unfold, rather than wide/medium/close- up/reverse formula, and heavily based on improvisation.All in all, The Messenger is a touching story about the differences we can make in others' lives simply by being the right person to break the news and having an open heart. It's a tribute to the men and women in arms without letting political differences get in the way. A story of the war at home shared alike by civilians and military, it's hard not to feel emotionally affected.
This movie seems to depict a particular job very specific if you read the storyline you know what I mean, for all the others who don't want to read spoilers, I will leave it to you to find out for yourself and very clearly. Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster are really great in a movie with a slow pace.Apart from the slow pace, you will also notice that it shot almost like a documentary. The two main actors have a good vibe going on and their interaction is always great. The unlikely pair work phenomenally together. Some of the stories told seem to be true and the matter is handled very <more>
carefully. Whether you like the movie or not, will depend on whether you think the story has enough material to be told. I liked it
'The Messenger' is powerful and engaging film. (by Jared_Clay)
Brilliantly acted film depicting two soldiers whose job it is to inform families when loved ones are killed in battle. Harrelson has never been better and Foster more than matches him all the way. It's emotional and engaging and genuinely painful at times. I had always thought how hard it must be to carry out such a job but had never really considered just what psychologically damage it could do long term to the person doing it. Harrelson depicts a man who has been doing the job far too long brilliantly and Foster in turn shows just what it can do to you initially. It's a perfect <more>
blend and the chemistry is excellent from start to finish. Deserves a much wider release and is with out doubt one of the best films of last year.