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Summary: Will is in the US Army. He has just returned from active service in Iraq, but still has another three months of service. A transfer to the “casualty notification office” provides him with his first opportunity for a fresh start. But behind the innocuous-sounding name lies a department that has the unenviable task of informing relatives of the deaths of their loved ones killed in action. (berlinale.de)
The main problem in the Messenger lies in the films juxtoposition between the engrossing scenes of inflicting despair on strangers and the mundane, sociopathic personal lives of the soldiers outside of their job. The frequent moments of casualty notification are each uniquely heart-rending and stand on their own, without necessitating the need for information about the men whose job it is to inform the families, but we get two hours of stereotyped alcoholic soldiers and PTSD cliches anyways.
A damn good film. Whether a person falls in battle or dies of natural cause, informing their loved ones is never an easy task. Moverman's characters are carefully fleshed out and earnestly portrayed, every scene seems to enhance their individuality. Two great films have been made about the Iraq War: "The Hurt Locker" is one of them, "The Messenger" is another.
Truly one of the hardest films you can possibly watch in terms of subject matter. The cast here is absolutely superb, even the actors for the bit parts are completely and utterly stellar. The job of informing families that their loved ones have died in the course of duty must be one of the toughest jobs on the planet and this film captures it completely. Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson manage to portray the tension and odd friendship of their relationship perfectly. Essential viewing in my book.
Foster, Harrelson, and Morton all do a terrific job, though the film is possibly hindered by the fact that Foster's protagonist isn't made to be very likable for some reason, which is unfortunate, because the actor is usually so charismatic in any role. As his chemistry with Harrelson grows though, the film gets better.
The true strengths of this film lie in the emotionally wrenching and well-directed scenes of bad news delivery. Ben Foster and especially Woody Harrelson both shine in their roles. However, the film is a bit bogged down by the unfocused and undeveloped romance between two unlikely people. The cinematography, while definitely going for realism, is actually pretty shoddy.
Excellent war drama that shows not soldiers falling in battle but the reactions of next of kin back home. Grief is rightly portrayed as unbearable and not romanticized like in Departures. First-time director Moverman obviously came from writing; it is script-oriented and his writing is ace, but it's also very well shot and played. From the leads to minor roles of grief-stricken "NoK"s, acting is formidable. For better or worse the acting stretches the drama against a subtle and restrained text.
Very Good. This not a war movie but shows the collateral damage on the home front in the US's independence crusade. The film treads a thin line successfully showing the damage and pain without being preachy or melodramatic. Ben Foster seems to improve with every film and Woody Harrelson's at the top of his game here, excellent performances, great story, pace and direction. Highly recommended.
The movie's strong suit is its feel of authenticity. You get a clear grasp of what it takes to perform this thankless job, and Harrelson and Foster are both excellent. Unfortunately, it is slightly hampered by the uninteresting romantic subplot.
Has its moments of greatness but falls a little flat in the plot department. But this is nevertheless an interesting, often moving, and well-acted soldier drama. A commendable effort by first-time director Oren Moverman.
Excellent drama that movingly portrays and contrasts different versions of the grieving process to quite stunning effect. Both Foster and Harrelson give award-calibre performances, and they are surrounded by a cast who provide great cameos, especially Buscemi as a grief stricken father; his scenes are almost unbearably wrenching. Screenplay is also exceptional, mixing intense drama with unexpected gallows humour. A quiet, reflective drama which grows with consideration and contemplation.
Incredible performances from Foster and especially Harrelson, but they're unfortunately thrown into a plot that feels nothing more than a series of emotional vignettes. Had there been more substance, it could have been a powerful character study.
A nice look at a part of war that is seldom, if ever, shown and the toll it takes on the men who have that duty. Personally I would have like the films last 40 or so minutes to be moved up earlier and expanded a bit as the first hour is a bit draggy, and the ending needs a tweek but not a bad film
Its overly contrived nature kind of undermines the pain and emotional free fall the main actors are occasionally able to evoke -- at least when they aren't yoked with the whole "You've got to follow protocol" "Goddammit, they're HUMAN" schtick.
Strong, charracter-driven melodrama with some great acting. Although I enjoy Harrelson doing comic roles, I wish I saw more of him in serious films. Story is good, except for a weak romance subplot, which dragged film a bit down in my eyes. Also, a word of warning: _The Messenger_ must have highest heart-breaking scenes per minute ratio is recent film history.