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Monday, January 18, 2010

THE MESSENGER

By D.E.Levine

Director: Oren Moverman
Writers: Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman
Producers: Benjamin Goldhirsh, Mark Gordon and Lawrence Inglee
Executive Producers: Steffen Aumuelier, Nathaniel Bolotin, Christopher Mapo, Shaun Redick, Glenn M. Stewart, Matthew Street, David Whealy and Bryan Zuriff
Co-producer: Gwen Bialic
Cast: Ben Foster, Jena Malone, Eamonn Walker, Woody Harrelson, Yaya DaCosta, Portia, Lisa Joyce, Steve Buscemi, Peter Francis James, Samantha Morton, Paul Diomede, Jahmir Duran-Abreau et al.
Original Music: Nathan Larson
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Tragedy

This is an extremely moving film which is somewhat surprising since the lead actor, Ben Foster, is generally cast as an angry character.

As an Iraqui War hero who is assigned to the Casualty Notification Office (CNO) during the final months of his tour, Staff Sgt. Will Montgomery is charged with notifying the next of kin about a soldier's death.

Initially finding it distasteful, Montgomery is rebellious and deliberately breaks some of the rules set by his seasoned commanding officer Capt. Tony Stone.

Stone has developed the nerves for the job while Montgomery identifies strongly with the grieving families.

Montgomery also is trying to deal with issues of his own. Shot in the face and leg with shrapnel in Iraq, Montgomery returned home to find his ex-girlfriend engaged to another man. Dealing with the loss of his love while suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome creates a complex Montgomery.

The job ironically helps Montgomery face with and deal with his own demons. We also see that the compassion and sensitivity Montgomery shows, may well equip him better than anyone else to deliver the heartbreaking news of loss to soldiers' families.

While a deep confessional between Montgomery and Strong towards the end helps to refocus the film, the ending is disappointing and leaves the viewer wondering why some of the relationships haven't been developed further.