welcome to lobos reviews

title image

Movie Review: The Messenger

Alternate Title: Casualties of War

Story: Don't Shoot the Messenger would be the obvious Alternate Title choice, but I thought that the subject matter in this hard hitting film cried out for a more sober Alternate Title.

Polar opposites in nature, Army Officers Will and Tony have the difficult task of knocking on doors, as part of the Casualty Notification Office, to inform next of kin that their wife, husband or child has been killed in action. The raw emotions come screaming off of the big screen as director Oren Moverman gets directly in your face while these officers deliver the bad news. The film was written by Mr. Moverman and Alessandro Camon. These are two men to watch.

How both Will and Tony cope with the emotional armor they carry to protect themselves as the news is delivered could have been sloppy and sappy but this film never goes to either of those addresses.

The topic is not one that most people think about and it is not easy viewing. My major criticism is that the film would have been better at 90 minutes rather than close to two hours. There were some unnecessary scenes that did nothing to further the story or the characters.

That said - this is a film that should be seen. You will be moved.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MEApxjYncI

Acting: Ben Foster as Staff Sgt. Will Montgomery, is someone to watch. His previous film 3:10 to Yuma also displayed his talent. Woody Harrelson as Capt. Tony Stone, delivers another in a series of fine performances. Samantha Morton as the recent widow Olivia Pitterson, does not lose character for a second. She is a rare talent. Jena Malone as Kelly has grown up but is still pouting. and Steve Buscemi as one of the grieving is just fine.

Trivia: Ben Foster has been practicing Transcendental Meditation since four years old. At 12, he Won second place in an international competition for a play that he wrote and directed. He dropped out of high school his freshman year to move to Los Angeles. Woody Harrelson is a vegan. He is an activist for the legalization of marijuana. His father, Charles Harrelson, was sentenced to two life sentences for the murder of Federal Judge John Howland Wood on the orders of drug dealer Jimmy Chagra, who reportedly paid him $250,000. Harrelson has claimed to be one of the "hobos" taken away from "the grassy knoll" right after the shooting of John F. Kennedy.

Predilection: None

Critters: A distant kitty cat in the street

Food: Pizza and lots of beer

Sex Spectrum: Sex is part of the opening scene and is a bit player throughout.

Blatant Product Placement: Pepsi

Soundtrack: Eclectic

Visual Art: Many of the scenes are reminiscent of Edward Hopper paintings. Fabulous.

Theater Audience: About 30 other saddened viewers. My movie buddy was not as pleased with this film as I was. He said he thought it was cookie cutter and shallow. I told him I thought he was shallow. We both laughed.

Weather: It is a hot Jersey summer.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: Delivering this news is very squirmy.

Drift Factor: It needed editing.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: I welled up a few times.

Oscar Worthy: I don't know. There cold be a nomination in the mix.

Big Screen or Rental: I always vote for the big screen when possible.

Length: A bit under two hours.