Monday, January 16, 2012

365 Movies Day #212 "The Messengers"

This is a stunningly beautiful film and I am surprised I hadn't seen it before now. I am such a fan of Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson and both deliver some amazing performances in this film which lead to an Academy Award nomination for Harrelson as supporting actor and for writers Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman for best original screenplay.

The film is about a young SGT Montgomery, wounded in combat and near the end of his enlistment. He heads back to the states and is assigned as a to a casualty notification team. Basically, these are the guys that show up at the family's door to tell them their loved one has been killed. Powerful content. Montgomery is skillfully played by Foster who is one of my favorite actors around right now. Foster has been talked about in the blog before for "PANDORUM" and he has wowed me before in flicks like "The Mechanic", "3:10 to Yuma", "Alpha Dog" and "30 Days of Night". Montgomery is partnered up with CPT Stone, a hard-edge, by the book veteran of the casualty notification duty and the first Gulf War. Stone's thick-skinned exterior hides a pretty lonely guy and the film quickly becomes an interesting "buddy flick" with a twist. When Montgomery doesn't heed Stone's warnings about following procedure events unfold that change both men forever. Stoner is played by Harrelson who has been featured in the blog for his wonderful starring role in "DEFENDOR". Looks like he, Foster and "The Messengers" writer/director Oren Moverman recently teamed up with Steve Buscemi again for another flick I have to see called "Rampart". In "The Messengers", Buscemi makes a brief but memorable appearance as one of the fathers the team has to notify.

The characterization and story arcs for both leads is wonderful. It's also interspersed with very powerful moments when they are performing their duties. Each time they notify a family in the film, as a veteran, I teared up. Such raw performances from actors like Buscemi, Peter Friedman, Angel Caban, Portia, Yaya DaCosta, Stevie Ray Dallimore, Marceline Hugot, Kevin Hagan and others. Also, Samantha Morgan ("Minority Report") is fabulous and a key player in the film. Salute to Jena Malone in this one too. She had a tough unlikable role in this one and was also hot as hell. You may know her from "Sucker Punch", "Into the Wild", "Donnie Darko" and other films.

All in all, this is an incredibly well-done film that deals with the ugly side of war that isn't disrespectful to servicemen or their families. In a way, it is a wonderful tribute to the men and women who give their lives in service. If you are in the service, have been, or are a relative of someone who is, prepare for a tearjerker. This is a powerful flick.


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