By Tim Lucia
The Messenger is a hard-hitting stateside military drama without any violence. Beautifully shot by first-time director Oren Moverman (co-writer of Jesus’ Son and I’m Not There), and very well-lit by the grips, The Messenger is a film dedicated to any family affected by the hardships of war. Jaded Iraq War veteran Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) is stateside, recovering from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device. His former girlfriend (Jena Malone) is now engaged to another man. Before long, the Army assigns him to the Casualty Notification Team. Abrasive to most people and unsuited for the job, Will is partnered with the by-the-book Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson). Stone teaches Will the protocol and mannerisms that come with the job, as Will quickly learns their job is a difficult one. At one notification, Will finds himself drawn to a young widow (Samantha Morton), which brings about a new conflict of morals. The Messenger is a terrific, powerful film that deals with the realities of war on the home front. Harrelson received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Moverman and co-writer Alessandro Camon were also nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Foster easily deserved a nomination for Best Actor, but did not receive one.