Amazon Holiday

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Messenger

Q: What’s the movie about?

A: A wounded war hero (Ben Foster) comes back from Iraq with 3 months left to serve and is assigned to join the team of soldiers who inform the next of kin when their loved ones have died in battle.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Jena Malone, Steve Buscemi, Jahmir Duran-Abreau, Yaya DaCosta, Eamonn Walker, Lisa Joyce

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketGo! This film manages to gut-wrenchingly portray the atrocities of war, without ever showing a single frame of the atrocities of war.

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: What is it about Woody Harrelson that makes his most disturbed characters come off so funny? I guess there's a fine line between hilarious and clinically insane.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: If you don't cry, you might just be hilarious (as defined above).

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: Woody is up for Best Supporting actor at the Oscars, as are the screenwriters, Oren Moverman and Alessandro Camon. They're all also nominated for Spirit Awards, along with Samantha Morton. Meanwhile, Ben Foster comes off like one of the most overlooked performances of the Awards season. And I'll tell you why I think he was overlooked... Because (at least in this movie) he looks like Owen Wilson.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: All the actors have so much going on underneath the surface that you empathize with them, without ever imagining that you might be able to relate to the inner torture of what they're going through.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: The directing is not particularly noticeable, except when the camera holds a little too long on several shots of Ben Foster staring off at someone he feels compassion for.

Q: How is the story/script?

A: The dialogue is understated in exactly the right way. It doesn't give you everything, but it never leaves you hanging. At some point in the second half, the story meanders onto a different course than it originally set off on, and the movie starts to feel about 10 minutes too long, but in the end you forgive it, because it still feels important and new. How is it that this is the first time that anyone has ever thought to tell the sad story of the poor soldiers who are tasked with reporting the worst possible news to loving families, day in and day out?

Q: Where can I see the trailer?


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Anonymous said...

I sort of wound up hating this movie. Emperor's New Clothes and all... I also found the direction annoying.

I realize I'm probably in the minority.


(Although I do like that Woody Harrelson was nominated, he's such a good actor.)

Monique Elisabeth said...

Why did you hate it? I thought it was really well done. What do you mean by Emperor's New Clothes?

Maybe you have this confused with Hurt Locker ;-)

Anonymous said...

I believe the hype when it comes to HURT LOCKER. I know we disagree, but that film is superior on all levels. I still don't get how you didn't love it. It'll win Best Picture and Bigelow will win Best Director. Pick 'em both in your Oscar Pool ;-)

MESSENGER, uh... I really like Ben Foster but he was so subdued in this he almost gave a non-performance which is shocking considering how talented he is. And, then after moving past its main premise (which would have been fine for a short), they shoe-horn in a lame romance w/a widow that doesn't even wind up going anywhere or paying off in any way. (It also completely detracts from the theme of the movie.) Samantha Morton matches Foster's non-performance in snooze-inducing ways -- I could not have been more bored. Once again, shocking considering how talented she is.

Over-hyped to the max -- all but a few scenes are just annoying adding up to basically nothing. As much as you thought UP was overpraised, I feel the same way about this movie.

I'm not confused ;-)


Monique Elisabeth said...

I didn't think this film was hyped at all. I hardly heard anything about it, besides that Woody Harrelson was good.

I think Ben Foster and Samantha Morton were very interesting in their performances. They were dealing with stuff inside, and needed each other to get through it. It didn't want to go anywhere, that would've been strange and inappropriate.

The story concept was so much more than a short! Think about what those guys have to go through.

What happened to us, rp? We don't agree on anything anymore!

Anonymous said...

The concept was telling families their loved one died in battle. Those scenes were good and effective, but who wants to sit thru 90 minutes of that? That's why I think it would be better served by a short film. (I saw this movie back in Nov. -- for whatever reason it was hyped to me amongst other writers who were trying to get it a WGA-nomination. I guess it has had a slow build.)

Ben and Samantha were not interesting to me. Just boring. At least Woody showed up a few times.

Ha! Can you imagine if I'd reviewed this one for your site? Then again, I would have given HL a green light.

I don't know what's happened. But in the meantime, I'll agree WHEN IN ROME looks horrible. And I haven't even seen it. (Don't worry, I'm sure we'll agree again.)


Anonymous said...

p.s. Congrats on your blogger award!!!


Monique Elisabeth said...

It's weird I have exactly the same complains about Hurt Locker that you have about Messenger. I felt that Messenger was a more effective way of showing the horrors of war. Hurt Locker was just desensitizing.

I thought they showed so many different situations of people being told, and so many interesting reactions. And the way it affected the messengers-- I'd never thought about that before.

Anonymous said...

I agree it was an interesting way into the topic. I never thought too much about the 'messengers' either. And I did think those scenes were very effective. I was disappointed when it diverged from that path (which happened fairly early).

I was not desensitized by HL. For me, Renner's performance conveyed more about the horrors of war and what it does to soldiers; the very nature of the hair-trigger possibility of dying at any second. The randomness of it... the warfare of a new generation which is scarier than ever. If anything, I was hyper-sensitized by the experience of viewing it. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time -- and I can't say that about many movies. (And the scene near the end, when he's picking out cereal in the grocery store: genius.)


Annette said...

All y'all can argue about which one is better 'til the boys come home. (In another ten years?)

But any trailer that makes me cry guarantees I'll like the movie.

Monique Elisabeth said...

@ Annette: lol "in another ten years"... and sad, too. But it was the messenger trailer that made you cry, right?

@rp: I saw the HL a year ago, so I don't remember the details like the grocery scene... but since it was at the end, I had probably checked out by then.

Film-Book dot Com said...

It's good. I was going to review it myself.

When one soldier tells "a war story" in the third act and the other one starts crying was one of the best moments in the film.

So was when they deliver the death notice in the supermarket.

Monique Elisabeth said...

I think the crying scene is the reason Woody Harrelson has been getting all those nominations.