Monday 20 June 2011

"The Messenger" (Metro 17/06/11)

The Messenger (15) 112 mins ****

Oren Moverman’s subtle Iraq drama centres on men involved in an unusually emotive mission: those soldiers trained to inform next-of-kin their loved ones have been killed in combat. Firebrand Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) is assigned to the U.S. Army’s casualty notification division after an overseas tour of duty that almost cost him his sight. His new partner is Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), a thrice-divorced veteran with strict on-the-job rules (no hugs, no doorbells, no asking for directions) to mitigate against the fact that, in his line of work, “there’s no such thing as a satisfied customer”.

Though bearers of bleak tidings, the two men’s interplay is disarmingly funny: an Oscar-nominated Harrelson visibly relishes the opportunity to update Robert Duvall’s Apocalypse Now yee-haw Kilgore. It’s the notifications that grip you, however: tense doorstep-bound set-pieces, rooted in character, which could go any which way. Like the best Vietnam-era movies, The Messenger adopts a low-key – Foster and Samantha Morton, as the widow with whom Montgomery becomes fascinated, share quiet, masterfully acted heart-to-hearts – but it absolutely brings home the troops’ sacrifice, and has an acute feel for individuals attempting to move on with life after death comes a-calling.

The Messenger is on selected release.

No comments:

Post a Comment