An American soldier struggles with an ethical dilemma when he becomes involved with a widow of a fallen officer.
Year 1, Day 63
BEFORE: Woody Harrelson is the focus of the next two films starting with today’s The Messenger. Oren Moverman directs both and Ben Foster also co-stars in both films.
AFTER: The Messenger follows Capt. Stone (Harrelson) and Sgt. Montgomery (Foster) as they inform soldier’s next of kin (NOKs) of their death. It’s a very somber film as it looks at loss and how people cope with it.
The most moving parts of the film are when Stone and Montgomery approach the families, dressed up in their uniforms. People react to just the presence of the officers before they even say a word. It’s one of the most telling signs seeing officers walk up to a house; it never means good news.
Besides that, another reason the film is so engaging is the lively characters played extremely well by Harrelson and Foster. You have the strict hard-ass who demands the rules be followed (Harrelson) and the much more subdued and contemplative war-hero (Foster).
What I didn’t like was Montgomery’s relationship with the widow Olivia Pitterson. Her husband is killed in action and Montgomery and Stone are tasked with notifiying Pitterson of her husband’s death. Then Montgomery breaks one of the most explicit rules of the whole job, don’t make contact with the NOKs, and gets involved with Pitterson. Not only does Stone not care about this one violation for no apparent reason, but he almost encourages it. He says something along the lines of, “This one must be crazy so don’t say I didn’t warn you.” No scolding for breaking the rules, no forcing him to break up with her. And then there’s the fact that the relationship is just weird. They even say as much in the film. The chemistry between the two characters is nonexistent and whenever they’re both in the same scene, I can’t wait for it to end.
In the end, the best piece of advice to come away with is the following quote by Stone: “First of all, men don’t ask for directions.”
RATING: 3 out of 5