Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Messenger

There are stories about war, and there are excellent stories about Iraq. The Messenger is both.

The Messenger, however, is not a story about soldiers in Iraq, territory that The Hurt Locker covered. This story concerns one soldier who came home, who survived although many of his team members did not, and is enlisted into a team to give the bad news to family members who are waiting for their sons and daughters and spouses to come home.

On the face of it, it seems to be an easy assignment. Ben Foster, as the young staff sergeant who only has 3 months left in the Army, however, isn't sure he wants anything to do with anything the Army offers, as he feels totally disoriented upon arriving home, even though he's been tagged as a hero. And his pairing with the captain in charge of the detail, portrayed by Woody Harrelson, is not to his liking. But the two find a way to get the job done.

But a hard job it is. I understand that the two actors had no idea what to expect when they walked into every notification scenario. What we see in their reaction rings true.

This is an unusual but brutal take on the cost of war, and is as successful in its mission, and message, as The Hurt Locker. It's stunning. I needn't tell you how good Harrelson is; he is setting new records with the variety and breadth of roles he takes on. But Foster is one of our young great actors -- witness 3:10 to Yuma. Keep an eye on him.

Thumb's up.


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