Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When The Messenger Knocks It Means Sorrow And Sadness

Very few movie today can bring a touching story to the screen that may have an emotional impact on the viewers. With this Country at war in several places, director Oren Moverman brings the touching drama, "The Messenger" is the story of two men who bring to the doorsteps the most devastating news that they will ever hear. The news is that their loved one has died in combat. For every family member who has lost a loved one fighting for this Country, we the people of America salute you.

Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) has been wounded in battle, he has been given medals to showcase his bravery, so he is a little confused when he gets home and is basically forced to work with Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) delivering the news of a soldiers death in battle. The first day of his new duty finds the two men at the home of one soldier, his pregnant girlfriend answers the door, they can't tell her because of the Army's rules and regulations, they can only tell his mother, who isn't home at the moment. When she does come in, the scene is done with grace and tenderness, the mothers reaction is genuine and heartbreaking. When Will meets Olivia (Samantha Morton) he goes against protocol and gets involved in her life, it is clear that he is falling for her, but she is afraid that he will misunderstand her emotional state, and take advantage of her weakness.

The story doesn't get bogged down in sentimentality or emotion and at times some of the humor seems out of place. Some of the supporting roles of family members were played by well know actors and this took away some of the real genuine emotional impact of the film, Steve Buscemi plays the father of a fallen soldier and his reaction is near flawless but would have had a greater emotional impact if it was played by an unknown instead of such a great actor like Buscemi. This was one of two things that stopped this film from being a great movie, the ending is a little bit wrong as well, through out the film we hear that will is a hero, but we never hear why, the end has Will and Tony talking about what happened to get will his medals, this conversation seems forced and out of place its like one second the two men are doing one thing and then they are sitting on a couch talking about what happened over there. This showcases the inexperience of the director, it almost feels as if he thought "Well I dangled it in front of you so long I might as well tell you" thanks but no thanks.

The military does have a unit of men called casualty notification agents, usually they appear with a chaplain in tow and always bring bad news. When they knock on the door the devastation of that knock is always the same. One thing the director did with this movie was not tell the two stars what actor would be at the home when they knocked, he wanted the stars to be unprepared for whoever it was who answered. This worked because this made the emotions more realistic, it forced the stars to be on their toes, this fact alone makes each knock more sensitive and created a deeper impact not only on the viewer but on the stars as well.

I give The Messenger a 3 and on my avoidance scale a 0, this is a well crafted movie, except for the minor flaws, it is well worth the time it will take to search out this movie, both the performances by the main stars are exceptional, the supporting stars make their scenes work, but it is the performances of the actors who answer the knock on the door that carry the most weight and make this movie work. Bravo for taking that risk.

The messenger is rated R for Language and Some Sexual Content/Nudity
Running time is 1 hr. 45 mins.

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