Go see The Messenger when it opens with a limited release on November 13, 2009. I thought I hated it. That’s how effective the movie The Messenger is. How could you not feel restless and question your decision to watch as two soldiers tell family after family their son is dead that their husband is dead that there son is dead?
Director Oren Moverman’s realistic, continuous shots lock you into the real time of pulling up to the ranch home with clothes hung out to dry and children playing in the yard. Through Harrelson and Foster’s characters relationship we see the terror, torment and the destruction of war in the lives of those who return home as well as those who do not. There is no musical score to add drama. The characters and their stories evoke tears. The acting is extraordinary. The tragedy remains firmly in the experiences of these humans having to bear the cost of war for all of us.
In one scene, Harrelson and Foster’s characters begin drunkenly goofing off in a parking lot at night. The boys play war. As their play becomes increasingly more frenetic, it transforms into the men working through their own post traumatic stress and strikes at the heart of their innocence before the war while pointing to the harrowing realities of war they are left to live with. The men fall to the ground at the close of the scene revealing broken selves in disarray after their military service.