The Messenger

Movies Reviews Woody Harrelson
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The Messenger

Release Date: Nov. 13
Director: Oren Moverman
Writers: Moverman and Alessandro Camon
Cinematographer: Bobby Bukowski
Starring: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Jena Malone, Samantha Morton
Studio/Run Time: Oscilloscope Laboratories, 105 mins.

War film well acted and fittingly bleak

It’s unfortunate for this film that we’re experiencing a collective case of war-movie fatigue; when we’re still dealing with these wars on television and in our own communities, it’s hard to drag ourselves to the movies to be reminded of how awful it all is.

The Messenger starts with an interesting premise: A war hero (Ben Foster) sent home to recuperate from injuries is assigned to spend his last three months of active duty on the Casualty Notification squad. It’s as depressing as it sounds, and made even less appealing by his partner (Woody Harrelson), who is cynical, clinical and maybe crazy.

The performances are understated and hit all the right notes, and the film is naturalistic, almost documentarian in its narrative. But this is the biggest strike against The Messenger: It is relentlessly bleak, even in its lighter moments. The downbeat tone is wearying. These days, we just need some hope.