The Messenger (2009) - 7 stars out of 10
“The Messenger” explores a different side of war: the family members who have lost someone in the war and the military officers who have to inform them. This film develops as a series of vignettes that show the reactions of families receiving this bad news and the emotional toll that it takes on the messengers. We never meet the soldiers and truly take on the perspective of the lead characters. The only things that we will ever learn about each soldier are revealed through the short interaction with their family. And then we must move on. The film is full of pure, raw acting by Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster, supported by a cast of characters who all react to their bad news in different ways. Woody has played some great roles in the past, but his breakdown at the end of this film is his finest moment. It will send chills down your spine. Steve Buscemi taps into an emotional place that we typically do not associate with him. Because of his goofball partnership with Adam Sandler, it is easy to forget his amazing performances in “Reservoir Dogs” and “Fargo.” The script is well pieced together with anti-war sentiments and the honor due to the men who protect our country. Each character response tells a different story of their relationship with their soldier and perspective of war. I did not have high expectations for “The Messenger” but it delivered a strong two hours of drama and emotion.