DVD Review: Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster deliver in ‘The Messenger’Duluth film critic Robert Herling comments on “The Messenger,” a new-to-DVD portrayal of what it takes to notify next of kin when servicemen are killed serving our country.
By: Robert Herling, Budgeteer News
Some viewers might feel apprehensive about sitting down to watch a dramatic portrayal about U.S. engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially one that focuses on the emotional devastation still being experienced by the veterans and the families of those lost in service. To those of us who have no friends or families currently serving overseas, it might feel precariously intrusive — to others somehow insensitive.
Yet, despite whatever scruples one might have about what has seemed to be a rash of war movies over the past few years “jumping the gun,” once you decide to watch Oren Moverman’s directorial debut about two U.S. Army casualty notification officers, no other movie regarding the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan seems more appropriate or timely.
At a point where many Americans now seem to be in a state of malaise over their country’s engagements across seas, “The Messenger” has something vital to say. For those with malaise (or even those who are happily ignorant), this film is like a communiqué about awareness as much as it is about honor or loss.
Nominated for two Academy Awards in 2009 (Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor), much of the film’s excellence is owed to the performances of its cast. Woody Harrelson’s Oscar-nominated performance as Capt. Tony Stone in particular does so much to articulate the film’s complex mix of sentiments. But for all of Harrelson’s masterful delivery of dialogue, the nuanced physicality of Ben Foster’s role as the more tacit Sgt. Will Montgomery is in lock step. It’s because of these great performances that we are compelled to watch and receive the message.
As the character of Sgt. Montgomery — himself a recent target of combat in Iraq — grows to accept his duty of delivering to others the most devastating news, we are told something about commitment in a way that assures there will be healing to come: healing for veterans, healing for families and healing for the country.
Learn more about this film at www.themessengermovie.com.
Reach Duluth-based film critic Robert Herling by clicking on his name above.