The Messenger

November 27, 2010 - Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson prove that they're very good at delivering bad news in this R-rated film from 2009. Samantha Morton, Jena Malone and Steve Buscemi also star.

Foster plays Army SSG Will Montgomery, a decorated war hero who's still recovering from the wounds that earned him the right to finish his tour of duty stateside. His CO assigns him to work with CPT Tony Stone (Harrelson) on the Casualty Notification Team. When a soldier in their area dies in combat, it's their job to notify the next of kin. Stone's been at the job for a long time and has a specific protocol. Montgomery often finds it hard to stick to these rules, especially where one certain widow (Morton) is involved.

Overall review: **** Harrelson received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance. Foster is also very good in his role, as are Morton and Buscemi. The movie is filled with war-time tension, even though no shots are ever fired. The drama comes from never knowing how a relative will react to the knock on the door. The minimal and understated soundtrack heightens the intensity of this tightly-written and well-acted movie which, if you ask me, is even better than the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker.