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The Messenger

War . Romance . History . Drama

Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant who has returned home from Iraq, is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Montgomery is partnered with Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), to give notice to the families of fallen soldiers. The Sergeant is drawn to Olivia Pitterson (Samantha Morton), to whom he has delivered news of her husband’s death.

Actors: Jena Malone , Woody Harrelson , Ben Foster , Marceline Hugot , Michael Chernus , Stevie Ray Dallimore , Dale Soules , Steve Buscemi , Samantha Morton , Eamonn Walker
Directors: Oren Moverman
Country: USA
Release: 2009-12-04
More Info:
  • Rick Groen

    "The Hurt Locker" may be getting all the attention and awards but The Messenger is at least as good and perhaps, given its delicate handling of a sensitive subject, even better.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Mike Scott

    It's a tremendously moving drama, filled with heartbreak, humor and, more importantly, humanity.

    New Orleans Times-Picayune Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    No movie can convey the truth of war to those of us who have not lived through it, but The Messenger, precisely by acknowledging just how hard it is to live with that truth, manages to bring it at least partway home.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • David Denby

    This is a fully felt, morally alert, marvellously acted piece of work. Despite the grim subject, it's a sweet-tempered movie, with moments of explosive humor-an entertainment.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Its truths are personal. It means to shake you. And does.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    This is a writer's picture, no less than a visual experience that approaches its subject as tactfully as the messengers do. No fancy camerawork. It happens, we absorb it.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    The Messenger is not itself grueling, which is practically a miracle. Rather, this pungent little chamber piece offers a full yet delicate range of emotions, and it humanizes its characters so that polemics are left in the background.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    This heart-rending tale also is a mesmerizing one because of several superb performances, particularly those of Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    The best war movies don't preach against war: They remind us of the costs for soldiers and families and ask us to consider whether those costs are worth paying. The Messenger does that without firing a bullet or putting us on a battlefield.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    It's an unblinking look into the lives of soldiers doing the most thankless job of all.

    Orlando Sentinel Full Review
  • Bob Mondello

    Messengers with the worst possible message, they nonetheless manage to be human and alive, humorous and lively. In a film that itself bears such sad tidings about the costs of war, that is an affirming, even an inspiring, gift.

    NPR Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    There's nothing drab about the tormented place these men take each other to. You'll want to go along.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • M. E. Russell

    The only scenes that felt "actorly" come when the pair drunkenly crash an ex-girlfriend's wedding party. Otherwise, The Messenger has a verisimilitude rare in films tackling this subject matter.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Captures the fear factor in the lives of these men without turning them into the usual home front head cases.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Justin Lowe

    Moverman adopts a functional directing style that gives full rein to the actors' impressive performances.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Joshua Rothkopf

    The movie does an uncommonly sensitive job probing the psychologies of blocked men, less so the urges of a widow who needs more than comforting words.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    The actors playing parents and spouses (among them Steve Buscemi, Halley Feiffer, Portia, and Kevin Hagan) are stunningly believable. I'm not sure how Morton made sense of her character's ebbs and flows, but I never doubted her. She's a mariner in uncharted seas of emotion.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Aaron Hillis

    What really resonates is the complex tale of camaraderie between two men whose only hope of avoiding self-destruction is to let down their guard--which is, of course, against protocol.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Betsy Sharkey

    The film belongs to Foster. The actor always makes the most of what is handed him, though he's usually required to find his footings around the margins, as he did as the crazed cowboy in "3:10 to Yuma" or the crazed druggie in "Alpha Dog."

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Peter Debruge

    Nobody plays angry like Ben Foster, but compassion is something new for the actor, who softens his crazy-man shtick to deliver a complex and moving performance in The Messenger.

    Variety Full Review
  • Marjorie Baumgarten

    One of the rare movies that communicates honestly and artfully about the real casualties of war: the surviving combatants.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    With the insight and sensitivity of an insider, The Messenger illuminates the sometimes invisible victims of war -- the survivors -- and a pain that is tolerated but never quite healed.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    A privileged glimpse into people's private pain, a drama shot with the simplicity and immediacy of a documentary.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Michael O'Sullivan

    Together, under the assured direction of first-time feature filmmaker Oren Moverman, these three actors tell a story that is at once hard-hitting and bizarrely gentle.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Wesley Morris

    The scenes between Montgomery and Stone in plainclothes would seem to be tangential to Moverman's movie, but they're very much its point. Only in uniform do these men make sense to themselves.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Joe Williams

    The Messenger is the debut film of writer and director Oren Moverman, but it's worldly wise, with two well-rounded characters.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    For all the film's gritty verisimilitude, The Messenger is not the great Iraq War movie that Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" is.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Andrew Male

    A worthy addition to the canon of Iraq war films, The Messenger has a gentle humanity that creeps under your skin. Look out for a terrific Harrelson turn, too.

    Empire Full Review
  • Elizabeth Weitzman

    Feels more respectful than real.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • J.R. Jones

    Whenever writer-director Oren Moverman moves past these scattered and admittedly voyeuristic moments into the lives of the two soldiers, the movie drifts into received wisdom and unconvincing romance.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Noel Murray

    Foster and Harrelson always stick to the Army's orders about what to say and how to behave. After a while, The Messenger starts to feel equally dogged about following a pat script.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    The similar Kevin Bacon HBO movie "Taking Chance" got there first. Worse news: The earlier movie was sober, meticulous and quietly convincing, not a shouty, shoddy bore like this piece of flummery.

    New York Post Full Review
Add Soundtrack

  • drunk driving

  • gas mask

  • female rear nudity

  • eating

  • food

  • restaurant

  • cafe

  • u.s. military

  • guilt

  • telephone call

  • operation desert shield

  • operation desert storm

  • friendship

  • loss of daughter

  • memory

  • death of daughter

  • coffin

  • underwear

  • photograph

  • father daughter relationship

  • african american

  • black american

  • kiss

  • bare butt

  • death of boyfriend

  • death of husband

  • nudity

  • tears

  • crying

  • boyfriend girlfriend relationship

  • drinking

  • drink

  • male nudity

  • mother son relationship

  • father son relationship

  • husband wife relationship

  • death

  • gardens of stone

  • spinet piano

  • ribbon

  • hero

  • shrapnel

  • party

  • punched in the face

  • jet ski

  • fishing

  • sex standing up

  • changing a tire

  • man crying

  • military funeral

  • 21 gun salute

  • grave side ceremony

  • taps

  • flag draped coffin

  • double date

  • giving someone a ride home

  • working out

  • weight machine

  • military dress uniform

  • spit in face

  • face slap

  • getting dressed

  • tattoo

  • hummer

  • rule

  • pager

  • american flag

  • camouflage uniform

  • f word

  • death notice

  • military uniform

  • beret

  • vomiting

  • suicidal thoughts

  • suicidal tendency

  • kitchen

  • bar

  • young widow

  • verbal abuse

  • u.s. soldier

  • u.s. army

  • texan

  • texan accent

  • sunglasses

  • storage facility

  • singing in a car

  • self storage

  • rowboat

  • obscene finger gesture

  • moving out

  • metal music

  • messenger

  • male rear nudity

  • loss of husband

  • home on the range

  • hole in the wall

  • gun salute

  • funeral

  • fisticuffs

  • ex boyfriend ex girlfriend relationship

  • engagement party

  • answering machine

  • alcoholic relapse

  • wiseguy dialogue

  • tragic hero

  • facial scar

  • new beginning

  • moral dilemma

  • male crying

  • male bonding

  • loss of son

  • loss of lover

  • loss of loved one

  • long take

  • loneliness

  • eye drops

  • drunkenness

  • death of loved one

  • contemplating suicide

  • conflicted hero

  • combat casualty

  • catharsis

  • casualty of war

  • buddy

  • budding friendship

  • black humor

  • betrayal

  • sex

  • woman on top

  • film starts with sex

  • female nudity

  • female frontal nudity

  • death of father

  • death of son

  • post traumatic stress disorder

  • punching a hole in a wall

  • acting

  • sunrise

  • humvee

  • watching a video on tv

  • watching tv

  • giving a toast

  • parking lot

  • cat

  • fire fight

  • plant nursery

  • pushing someone from behind

  • coffee

  • hispanic american

  • spanish

  • translator

  • secret marriage

  • military manual

  • ice cream truck

  • respect

  • u.s. secretary of the army

  • car accident

  • punching one's fist into a wall

  • watching through a window

  • listening to a radio

  • car radio

  • thrice married

  • hanging from a rooftop

  • rooftop

  • asking for forgiveness

  • last words

  • kindness

  • unconsciousness

  • passed out

  • crusades

  • jihad

  • bosnia

  • vietnam war

  • playing pool

  • pool table

  • car burglar alarm

  • soccer ball

  • pianist

  • computer

  • wedding reception

  • leg blown off

  • crutches

  • surgery

  • bomb

  • explosion

  • waitress

  • car repair

  • interracial child

  • interracial relationship

  • bus stop

  • newspaper obituary

  • pizza

  • baby

  • military recruitment

  • dining hall

  • piano

  • darts

  • sit ups

  • shopping mall

  • supermarket

  • grocery store

  • hoodie

  • angel of death

  • beeper

  • alcoholics anonymous

  • private

  • reference to yankee doodle dandy

  • earphones

  • playground

  • bugler

  • bugle

  • optometrist

  • eye test

  • eye injury

  • leg injury

  • knocking on door

  • rearview mirror

  • mirror

  • boy

  • hanging out washing

  • taxi

  • sound of sex

  • face wound

  • apology

  • handshake

  • urination

  • wedding

  • flowers

  • hitchhiking

  • lie

  • song

  • singing

  • singer

  • beer

  • police

  • policeman

  • reflection in a car window

  • driver's license

  • boxer shorts

  • weightlifting

  • honor guard

  • rifle

  • unwed pregnancy

  • pregnancy

  • sleeping on the ground

  • sleeping in a car

  • dear john letter

  • letter

  • fight

  • religion

  • family relationships

  • storytelling

  • cigarette smoking

  • running a red light

  • reckless driving

  • iraq war

  • soldier

  • wounded

  • independent film

  • captain

  • staff sergeant

  • casualty notification

  • casualty notification team

  • improvised explosive device

  • sergeant

  • grief

  • recovering alcoholic

  • american soldier

  • ethical dilemma

  • death notification

  • dark comedy

  • crying woman