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The Messenger 2009 R CC

An injured soldier is paired with a by-the-book captain to notify families of their loss -- a job that bonds them as they debate differing views on serving America. At odds at first;the two find common ground while facing life's variety of battles.

Starring:
Ben Foster, Jena Malone
Runtime:
1 hour, 52 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Military & War, Drama, Romance
Director Oren Moverman
Starring Ben Foster, Jena Malone
Supporting actors Eamonn Walker, Woody Harrelson, Yaya DaCosta, Portia, Lisa Joyce, Steve Buscemi, Peter Francis James, Samantha Morton, Paul Diomede, Jahmir Duran-Abreau, Gaius Charles, Brendan Sexton III, Brian Adam DeJesus, T.J. Allen, Halley Feiffer, Peter Friedman, Jeremy Strong, Fiona Dourif
Studio Oscilloscope
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

With the exception of Woody Harrelson getting nominated for Best Supporting Actor, THE MESSENGER has not been getting the attention that it deserves from the critics and awards. This is the film that should've been nominated for Best Picture (Drama) by the Golden Globe Awards. This is the film that should've been nominated for Best Picture by the Broadcast Film Critics Awards. With the exception of the Independent Spirit Awards, THE MESSENGER is being grossly overlooked. I think it may be because it is not released by a major distributor. And it is overshadowed by THE HURT LOCKER. To tell you the truth, I have seen both films, and I'll take THE MESSENGER over THE HURT LOCKER anyday. THE HURT LOCKER was more suspenseful, but THE MESSENGER did a much better job examining the human condition from both the soldiers and the civilians' point of view. In a way it reminded me of a contemporary version of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT because it depicted the horrors of the war, and the effects that it had on both the soldiers and their loved ones. I highly recommend this film. It is one of the best films of 2009. One last thing--it is about time Woody Harrelson wins an Oscar for his performance as an actor. He is incredible in this film.
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Format: Amazon Video
This is by far the WORST representation of Casualty Affairs and the Notification Process. And I should know. Not only did I go through the training myself at Fort Rucker, AL, I also am a U.S. Army Veteran and an Iraqi War Widow. (The picture included is of my son and I visiting our hero's grave at Arlington National Cemetery.)

I have had the heartbreaking experience of hearing "The Knock" and having two men in Class A uniforms come to my home at 7:00 in the morning to inform me that my beloved husband was killed in action just outside Kirkuk, Iraq. There is so much wrong with this movie, to include the involvement these soldiers had after notification. That isn't how it works, at least not on the Active Duty side of the house. The CNO and a Chaplain notify the family and then they leave. It is set up that the original notification team members do not stay, because they are the ones the family now associates with bringing them the horrific news of their soldier's death. Shortly after notification, the newly assigned CAO (Casualty Assistance Officer) makes contact with the family and they are the ones that will be available 24/7 to help the family through the paperwork, the funeral and entitlements process. Also, a soldier doesn't get assigned this job as a permanent duty. They attend the class and get put on a roster. If, God forbid, a soldier falls, then Casualty Affairs will choose someone from the roster that is the same rank or higher of the fallen soldier to act as CAO. They are then pulled from their unit and regular job and temporarily assigned to the family. Once they have completed everything necessary (in my case it took six months), they return to their unit and regular job.
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I have seldom seen a more moving or seamless antiwar film than Oren Moverman's "The Messenger." Its Iraq War theme makes it absolutely up to the minute, yet its portrayal of the raw grief that war creates echoes throughout human history. In some ways, "The Messenger" serves as a companion piece to Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker." "The Hurt Locker" portrays the effect of the Iraq War on combat soldiers; "The Messenger" concentrates more on its effect on the loved ones waiting at home.

Ben Foster, who was so excellent in "3:10 to Yuma" and "Six Feet Under," exceeds even those achievements as Sgt. Will Montgomery, an Iraq War soldier recovering from grievous physical and psychic wounds who receives the unwelcome assignment of notifying the survivors of soldiers killed in action. Making the assignment even harder is Capt. Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), a hard-nosed military lifer who commands Montgomery to stick to the script: never touch a survivor, and never express more than the most perfunctory sympathy. Stone, a recovering alcoholic, has his own problems: a veteran of the First Persian Gulf War, he never saw any combat worth the name, and suffers a world of guilt he tries to hide by playing the martinet and chasing every skirt he sees. Meanwhile, Montgomery, who has been jilted by his high-school sweetheart (Jena Malone), starts to develop feelings--totally against the rules--for a young military widow (Samantha Morton).

Featuring sharp dialogue and brilliant performances (including one by Steve Buscemi as the father of a fallen soldier), "The Messenger" is a powerfully moving cinematic experience.
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Format: DVD
The Messenger is the story of Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery, played by Ben Foster, a wounded soldier who has returned to the base and is placed on the notification team until the time of his discharge. Colonol Dorsett, played by Woody Harrelson in his best performance to date, shows him the ropes. The two are an unlikely duo, and despite both being combat veterans (Dorsett in Desert Storm), this assignment provides a very different stress. The two soldiers are on call every hour of every day. When a soldier dies, they race to notify the family before they hear about their love one's death somewhere else. Given their unique jobs, they spend more and more of their time together even when they're not working.

The extended supporting cast members of this film are amazing. Their notifications are met with a variety of results, as we all process grief and shock differently. The supporting actors and actresses have one scene to deliver their messages of despair and grief. The film is a fascinating look into the human psyche, and it's the best war movie I've ever seen. It's a deep, thoughtful, uncomfortable look at the effects of war on individuals. Woody Harrelson was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but I'm surprised Samantha Morton was not nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

The Messenger is not always an easy film to watch, but it's well worth the time. It's not a movie I want to watch over and over again, but it a film I will buy and watch once every year or two. Mostly, I'll pass along my dvd to anyone who will watch it. Everyone has jumped on The Hurt Locker bandwagon, but The Messenger is a better film. It's smarter, more nuanced and a more fascinating look at this war. I was surprised when it wasn't nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. There's no question it is one of the five best films of the year.
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