The Messenger

"Excellent"

The Messenger Review


Another dark, gloomy drama about home life during wartime, this film features some seriously great performances and a theme that will resonate powerfully with thoughtful audiences.

Will (Foster) is just out of military hospital after being injured while serving in Iraq; his relationship with his girlfriend (Malone) is strained, and he's not happy about his new assignment informing families about the deaths of loved ones in the warzone. His mentor for the job is the jaded Tony (Harrelson), who survives by maintaining his distance from the families: "Don't touch the NOK" (next of kin), he tells Will. But Will can't help but reach out to them, and one widow (Morton) makes a particularly strong impression on him.

There isn't much of a plot, so the film feels more like a fable. But this means that it's finely focussed on the characters, echoing their moody, nervous attitudes in the textured camerawork and emotional underscore. It's a remarkable directing debut for writer Moverman, and it gives the actors the space to do some powerfully introspective work. Both Foster and Harrelson give the best performances of their careers as two guys who have been changed by war ("you can't unsee the s**t") and are surprised to find themselves learning from each other.

Foster is terrific as a man who's precariously on the edge, a decorated war hero sidelined on the "angel of death detail" and given a beeper. Harrelson brings a remarkably fragile steeliness to Tony, using gallows humour to cover this sly but hollow man's internal anguish. "There's no such thing as a satisfied customer," he says, with a mixture of cynicism and pathos. And Morton is also excellent as one grieving survivor we follow beyond the doorstep.

What's most impressive about this film is the grown-up approach it takes to both bereavement and heroism, looking at death straight-on without sentimentalising or simplifying it. While many scenes are unbearably sad, they also maintain a respectful stillness and underlying wit, plus a strong attention to telling detail. And even if the plot takes a couple of contrived turns, this is subtle, observant filmmaking about what's going on inside the characters for a change.



The Messenger

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 113 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th February 2010

Box Office USA: $1.0M

Box Office Worldwide: $592.4 thousand

Distributed by: Oscilloscope Pictures

Production compaines: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 140 Rotten: 16

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Gwen Bialic, Benjamin Goldhirsh,

Starring: as Will Montgomery, as Tony Stone, as Kelly, as Stuart Dorsett, as Olivia Pitterson, as Dale Martin, Dale Soules as Cashier, Stevie Ray Dallimore as Kelly's Father, as Alan, Marceline Hugot as Mrs. Flanigan, Lindsay Michelle Nader as Claire

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.