Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Movie Review: The Messenger



I saw a screening of the new film "The Messenger" followed by a Q and A with director/writer Oren Moverman and stars Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster - and I couldn't have loved it more. I've been seeing so many movies lately by all of the masters in film school - and this film really impressed me.

It's about the soldiers who have to tell families that their son/daughter/husband/wife has been killed in combat. It takes place in the present, with the war going on right now.

It's largely about the working relationship/friendship between Harrelson and Foster - and their acting couldn't have been any more natural, real, both funny and moving. I've always loved Woody Harrelson for his balance of humor and sincerity on screen. Foster got to me as the irritating Russel in my favorite tv show, Six Feet Under. Foster totally blew me away in this role.

Samantha Morton and Steve Buschemi also played so movingly and realistically in the film.

A lot of small choices added to the reality of the film. Samantha Morton gained some weight, so she looked a lot more authentic. She has a half black kid, which speaks to the fact that hey - there's also a lot of black men in the military too, though they weren't the main characters. I was surprised by the use of sex and nudity in the top of the movie. If you like Jena Malone's butt, you're going to love seeing her in a very realistic sex scene. I think the reason for this is it sets an emotional tone, and heightens the level of intensity of the charactor's experience.

There is an intimate scene between Ben Foster and Samantha Morton that seems so real, such a balance of pushing toward and pulling away - and I've really felt that in different circumstances. Moverman explained that he got it all in one long take, placing the camera through a window outside of the room, and actually used one long rehearsal take because he thought it was perfect. Smart thinking, and a pretty clever way to get around producers messing with your edit.

The story is well rounded and offers a thought provoking exploration of the soldier's reality.

I hate war. I think if the world was run by women, we'd have UN meetings and verbal battles instead of combat. It's primitive, unnecessary, and not progressive. BUT it's reality. And it's a part of the world we live in. Many young men and women live this reality, and Oren Moverman helped me understand a lot more about their experience.

I'm sorry for the soldiers that this is the way the world is. I wish the politicians and angry terrorists would stop sending them to die.

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They will have a screening this Friday and cast and directors will be there as well. Go!

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