Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Messenger (2009)

I went to see this mainly because Ben Foster was in it, and the last thing I saw him in, 2006's "Alpha Dog" he was jaw-dropping.

In a lead role, he was pretty damn good again in this, an equally dark movie at times. He plays a sergeant in the Army home from Iraq with only a short time left of active duty he is assigned to notify the next-of-kin of their loved one's dying in action.

Many of the scenes doing said notifications got pretty emotional and serious, naturally. I imagine how they portrayed it in the film is pretty close to how real it is when that happens.

Woody Harrelson was also very good in a supprting role, as the officer to train him in the process. He provided some humor off and on, for what was many high-tension scenes.

Overall, this is hardly an uplifting movie, but at the same time many movies involving the military and wars can be a lot more dark and violent. I think the director struck a pretty good balance between showing an impact on what they were having to do, humanizing many of the situations the loved ones and even the officers were in. And just in Foster's character's coping with the circumstances he's in, not being used to being home, and doing a new kind of difficult job. A job that he ultimately embraces and finds his own approach.

His time with Samantha Morton was interesting. She was quite good, in a less-common situation as a next-of-kin from a fallen-vet. With a kid and maybe not as strong an emotional bond as others; notice-able after learning about the loss of her husband.

As powerful as much of this movie was, and I'd definitely give Ben Foster a nomination for his performance in this movie, I did find a few of the scenes, especially with Morton's character, to drag pretty long. Silence with no action for some period of time being part of that. But that was probably a minor issue within everything about this movie.


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