Will (Ben Foster) returns from Iraq after he was shot. Since he’s not fit for going into war anymore, he gets assigned to Captain Stone (Woody Harrelson), who is responsible for personally notifying the next of kin of fallen soldiers when those soldiers fall. During this job, Will meets the freshly widowed Olivia (Samantha Morton) and falls in love with her.
The Messenger is not a movie that speaks for or against the war. Instead it looks at the personal tragedies that arise from it. It does so with a lot of sensitivity and compassion. And it’s wonderfully acted (remind me again, why isn’t Ben Foster world famous yet?). If that wasn’t enough reason to watch it, it’s also funny.
The script by Moverman (who also wrote I’m Not There) and Alessandro Camon does a perfect job, not only capturing the grief of the families who get notified but also Will’s own grief, the trauma he sustained in the war and which he tries to deal with but ultimately doesn’t know how. And since he has no support (or doesn’t seek it) from the people around him, things don’t go too well.
Ben Foster… I can only repeat myself: Why isn’t he world-famous yet? Why do I have to explain him with “the dude who played the Angel in X3?” [Which, btw, was his weakest role from those I have seen.] Woody Harrelson was great – I haven’t seen him this good in a while… Steve Buscemi’s turn as a grieving father was breathtaking. And Samantha Morton was awesome.
I liked the story – it felt very real to me. The development the characters go through, the end… Everything’s told with so much respect for the characters and their problems that it’s a joy to watch. [And, even though the movie fails the Bechdel test, it has so well executed female characters that you don’t really care.]
And because it is told with so much respect, they can include funny scenes seamlessly. Granted, sometimes the humour is a little bitter, but it’s funny nevertheless.
Summarising, you should really try to catch this one. Totally worth it.