THE MESSENGER Review

I've been waiting for Ben Foster to get a leading role for a while now. In a film that never gained as much attention for the amount of critical praise it got, Mr. Foster turns in a very real and affecting performance. 'The Messenger' is the story of having to do the sometimes forgot about job of delivering the news to someones mother, father, wife or some other family member that their loved one has died in battle. You always think about those receiving the news and how awful you feel for them. You certainly feel this here with an array of different family members receiving the news. Steve Buscemi gives an amazing yet brief performance as a father who loses his son. The raw emotion that is felt in his scene as well as with both Foster and Harrelson the entire film raises this film way above a pure 'war' film, it is more about the human condition and how those constantly surrounded by bad news make their own way through life. Not a lot of background info is given about Foster's character although there is plenty of exposition to give us some assumptions as to why he has ended up in this current position. For the first 45 minutes or so the film examines Foster's Will Montgomery as he learns his new job and deals with his personal life. It shows us the blossoming of the relationship between him and Harrelson's Tony Stone and begins to break down these stone-faced soldiers as real people who sometimes are unable to handle the wave of emotion that comes to those they are delivering news to. After delivering the news to a woman of her husbands death Will becomes kind of oddly attracted to her and interested in her life. Samantha Morton is the widow who deals honorably with her husbands death and Wills advances. Through this he is able to resolve his personal issues that he allowed to creep into his professional duties. This makes the second half of the film which has a different tone than the first its heart. Where the first half makes us aware of heartache and loss the conclusion gives us a sense of repair and hope. Harrelson's performance is in a zone all its own though, his Tony seems to get as far away as possible from what he has been assigned to do in service of his country. He is bitter about it, but doesn't let it show. He saves all of his restraint for his job and completely lets loose when he goes out. It is a crazy way to live and in the end it is his evolution that brings the film full circle. This isn't a war movie at all, it is in fact a film simply about life and how to deal. This just happens to be a very true, raw and fearless glimpse at one perspective of that.