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The Messenger2009

  • 3.8
Co-written by Oren Moverman and Alessandro Camon, THE MESSENGER is a powerful and tender story about a returned war hero making his first steps toward a normal life. In his first leading role, Ben Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army's Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Harrelson) to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front. When he finds himself drawn to Olivia (Morton), to whom he has just delivered the news of her husband's death, Will's emotional detachment begins to dissolve and the film reveals itself as a surprising, humorous, moving and very human portrait of grief, friendship and survival. Featuring tour-de-force performances from Foster, Harrelson and Morton, and a brilliant directorial debut by Moverman, THE MESSENGER brings us into the inner lives of these outwardly steely heroes to reveal their fragility with compassion and dignity. Nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Best Writing Original Screenplay at the 2010 Academy Awards®.

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"At its center lie three accomplished performances, by Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, and Samantha Morton, that are not to be missed." - Rex Reed, New York Observer


4 members like this review

i've been looking forward to this film for years, but never got around to seeing it. I can't think of anything bad to say about it. it's tone, rhythm, setting are spot on. Harrelson is a great surprise--he takes his role & becomes it. It's the best I've ever seen him. Samantha Morton is at top form. I'm not familiar with Ben Foster, but he is powerful & thoroughly authentic in this. Only an indie could do a film this moving; Hollywood has lost any ability to portray real people trying to cope with real tragedy. If I could, I'd give it six stars instead of the usual five.

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Member Reviews (9)

102589.small
top reviewer

i've been looking forward to this film for years, but never got around to seeing it. I can't think of anything bad to say about it. it's tone, rhythm, setting are spot on. Harrelson is a great surprise--he takes his role & becomes it. It's the best I've ever seen him. Samantha Morton is at top form. I'm not familiar with Ben Foster, but he is powerful & thoroughly authentic in this. Only an indie could do a film this moving; Hollywood has lost any ability to portray real people trying to cope with real tragedy. If I could, I'd give it six stars instead of the usual five.

4 members like this review
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top reviewer

Excellent drama revealing how the many tendrils of war,far from the battlefield,affect people's lives. Great job by Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson ,Samantha Morton and a fine cameo by Steve Buscemi. A fine screenplay that was well executed without falling into cliches.

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top reviewer

The Messenger is a great film. It's about something we can all relate to—about grief at the impermanence of life. About being real with one's emotions. Great acting, moving characters, unexpected developments. Simple plot line, two soldiers detailed to notify the next of kin of their loved one's death in combat. Once you get past the gruesomeness of that, it's very watchable, mature, mesmerenging. A classic.

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top reviewer

As real and direct as it gets, very well made, takes a detour towards the end but sends a poignant message.

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top reviewer

Impressive acting. Not a lot of grief relief, but memorable and impressive film.

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top reviewer

Highly recommended.

As is to be expected, Woody Harrelson gave a superb performance. And though it feels like a small independent film, it had the approval of the Pentagon's Film Liaison Office, which completely neutered the story's great potential. Had it had the guts to go after the lies and hypocrisy of our imperial currency and oil wars, it might have added up to something worth remembering. Instead, we got the usual fare of insipid fake heroism in the guise of a character study, when what was really needed was an indictment of murderous US foreign policy around the globe. Well, at least the audience wasn't subjected to the usual Hollywood pyrotechnics.

The tension builds as the story goes; emotions from very deep wells are brought up.

well done