INsite Magazine

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Messenger Delivers Real American Heroes

The Messenger, a contemporary war film debuting Friday, Jan. 15th at the Hippodrome, avoids the theatrics of war and politics to engage its characters on a more personal and less dogmatic level. The impressive directorial debut of scriptwriter Oren Moverman, The Messenger has already garnered international praise for its honest portrayal of soldiers on the home front and the families behind them.

Ben Foster stars as Will Montgomery, an injured war hero who returns stateside to assume his duties as a casualty notification officer for the Army. Partnered with callous and sleazy senior officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), Will must visit the families of the recently deceased to announce their loved one’s death. The frustration of discovering his ex-girlfriend (Jena Malone) already engaged and the pressures of his new job lead Will to seek the comfort of a soldier’s widow (Samantha Morton).

The film is hardly dedicated to dour contemplations on war and heroics, though. Using much of the same comic charisma he had in the recent Zombieland, Harrelson’s character in particular buoys the plot with his eccentric antics, maniacal gaze, and puerile humor. Gone are the stunts and splash of more testosterone-driven war films. Devoid of violence and bloodshed, the bare humanity of the soldiers in The Messenger alone is enough to make this film one of 2009’s best.

The Messenger is playing at the Hippodrome through Thursday, Jan. 21. You can check times and buy tickets online.

-- Allison Griner

We talked to lieutenant colonel Paul Sinor, who served as the film's army liaison. Check out why he loves the movie and how he changed Woody Harrelson's thoughts on war here.

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