Monday, February 22, 2010

movie review: The Messenger

The Messenger
I saw The Messenger several weeks ago, and my initial reaction was strong, both emotionally and intellectually. To attempt to do this movie justice, I wanted to wait to fully compose my thoughts about it's brilliance. It's no secret I adored An Education (here's my review of it), and I almost like The Messenger as much. 

The Messenger is the story of Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery, played by Ben Foster, a wounded soldier who has returned to the base and is placed on the notification team until the time of his discharge. Colonol Dorsett, played by Woody Harrelson in his best performance to date, shows him the ropes. The two are an unlikely duo, and despite both being combat veterans (Dorsett in Desert Storm), this assignment provides a very different stress. The two soldiers are on call every hour of every day. When a soldier dies, they race to notify the family before they hear about their love one's death somewhere else. Given their unique jobs, they spend more and more of their time together even when they're not working.

The extended supporting cast members of this film are amazing. Their notifications are met with a variety of results, as we all process grief and shock differently. The supporting actors and actresses have one scene to deliver their messages of despair and grief. The film is a fascinating look into the human psyche, and it's the best war movie I've ever seen. It's a deep, thoughtful, uncomfortable look at the effects of war on individuals. Woody Harrelson was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but I'm surprised Samantha Morton was not nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

The Messenger is not always an easy film to watch, but it's well worth the time. It's not a movie I want to watch over and over again, but it a film I will buy and watch once every year or two. Mostly, I'll pass along my dvd to anyone who will watch it. Everyone has jumped on The Hurt Locker bandwagon, but The Messenger is a better film. It's smarter, more nuanced and a more fascinating look at this war. I was surprised when it wasn't nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. There's no question it is one of the five best films of the year.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5 stars) - one of the year's best films
Running time: 112 minutes
Release date: It's in theaters now, and it will be out on dvd May 18, 2010
Source: I paid to see it at the Spectrum Theater.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard of this, but I'm going to add it to my Netflix queue :-) thanks!


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