Friday, March 11, 2011

The Messenger (2009) R - 3 Stars

I'm putting this one in my "Based on a True Story" category even though the movie is not based on any one particular solider, it's based upon the necessary assignment of notifying families of the human cost of war. Something I am sure most of us haven't thought about, is the special unit of the military who's assignment is to inform families of causalities of war. The "Messengers" duty is to non emotionally, break the bad news to the NOK (next of kin), when there's a death of an American soldier. Foster and Harrelson do an great job portraying these officers who specialize with quick "in and out" procedures of notification. A strict script is practiced and preformed leaving no room for any emotional deviance. I found their service to be deeply moving and realistically felt.

However, for me the movie is lacking in character depth of it's main stars. Harrelson is a tough, dedicated Captain taking newly appointment decorated war hero Foster under his wings to whip him into shape for the Army's Casualty Notification program. You get a small taste of Harrelson's personality with his take it or leave attitude towards love and his resentment of not seeing active combat duty while in Desert Storm. He's dedicated to the Army and follows protocol to the letter. Foster is actively coming to grips with injuries he suffered in Iraq. The fact he's deemed a hero by all but his own eyes, his mind is still at war and he easily dismisses the love of his life while he comes to terms with mental and physical injuries. While informing a woman of her husbands death, Foster feels an instant attraction and the need to make things stable in her life again. The correlation between their growing relationship and Foster's own personal anguish was really not explained well. But it's definitely worth the rental to feel the pain the families left behind grieve through with the loss of their child.

Casualty Notification Senior Officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), has just been told to take Staff Sgt. Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), under his wing and show him the ropes in proper protocol for delivering the words of a soldiers death. Montogomery has lost his former girlfriend and is still reliving the war in his head. Stone makes it very clear to Montgomery the importance of not getting emotionally involved with the NOK. As the two men show up at Olivia Pitterson's (Samantha Morton), home, they must tell her the sad truth about her husband. Even though the officers are to go in and get right out, Montgomery feels a deep need to take care of this woman as he watches her crumble. He goes against protocol and becomes involved with Olivia trying to ease and comfort her needs. Having the death of his own relationship, he can relate to grief for loss. Montgomery tries to teach Stone that sometimes life is more important than the rules.

GOOD Worldwide, Mark Gordon Company
Director: Oren Moverman
Writers: Oren Moverman, Alessandro Camon
Producers: Ben Goldhirsh, Christopher Mapp, Matthew Street
I viewed 6/10

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