Review: The Messenger (Oscilloscope Laboratories; in theaters November 13)

The Worst News of All

| November-December 2009

The war in Iraq may be largely over, but as this powerful new drama shows, the conflict remains an open wound. The Messenger follows two soldiers, a young Iraqi war hero (Ben Foster) and a brazen, alcoholic Desert Storm veteran (Woody Harrelson, in a stunning career-best performance). Together, they work for the Casualty Notification Office, delivering the tragic news of fallen soldiers to their next of kin. The gut-wrenching notification scenes are dispersed throughout the story, each one exploding the film open with wails of pain and fury. But ultimately, The Messenger operates like a sensitive, finely etched buddy movie, delicately observing these two very different men as they form a deep bond. Finally, here is a film that, without patriotic clichés, honors the service of today’s soldiers while showing how it rips them apart.