Friday, October 28, 2011

Movie review: "The Messenger"

The job of informing families that their loved ones have died in war understandably requires compassion and sensitivity. So it is no small irony that in "The Messenger" the military sends forth two men who seem at first to be among the least compassionate or sensitive humans one could find.

The soldiers, Will Montgomery (played by Ben Foster) and Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), are not truly without emotion, as we learn as the story develops. But scarred by war and lost love, they have bottled up their own feelings (note the name "Stone" -- get it?) while at the same time their "Casualty Notification" jobs put them in the line of fire for intense emotional explosions.

"The Messenger" is a war movie without a war. It takes us not to the battlefront but to the homefront where soldiers and family members suffer the collateral damage of a distant war.

This is not a first-date movie nor "light" entertainment. It's a weighty, thought-provoking film blessed with terrific acting. Foster and Harrelson deliver deep, multilayered performances.  Also strong is Samantha Morton, who plays a soldier's widow who connects with Montgomery.

You may want to keep some tissues at hand for the movie will tug on your tear ducts.


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