The Messenger (2009 film)

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The Messenger
Messengerposter10.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Oren Moverman
Produced by Mark Gordon
Lawrence Inglee
Zach Miller
Written by Alessandro Camon
Oren Moverman
Starring Ben Foster
Woody Harrelson
Samantha Morton
Jena Malone
Music by Nathan Larson
Cinematography Bobby Bukowski
Edited by Alexander Hall
Distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories
Release date
  • November 13, 2009 (2009-11-13)
Running time
113 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6.5 million[1]
Box office $1.5 million[1]

The Messenger is a 2009 war drama film starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Steve Buscemi, and Jena Malone. It is the directorial debut of Oren Moverman, who also wrote the screenplay with Alessandro Camon.

The film premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and was in competition at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay and the Berlinale Peace Film Award '09. The film received first prize for the 2009 Deauville American Film Festival. The film has also received four Independent Spirit Award nominations (including one win), a Golden Globe nomination, and two Academy Award nominations.

Plot

After his return from Iraq; Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army staff sergeant on leave, finds that his girlfriend Kelly is engaged to another man he knows named Alan. Before he is to be discharged, he is dispatched as a casualty notification officer along with Capt. Stone as his mentor. He is told by Lieutenant Col. Dorsett of the importance of his task as many have failed; Stone then relays the rules of telling next of kin of a tragedy. On the job, their first report shows a woman slapping Stone as her family weeps over the loss of her son. People continue to be told of deaths, including a man named Dale Martin who is angry when news of his son's death warrants no reason to him; a daughter who secretly married an enlisted man without telling her father that cries in his arms; a Mexican man, who is told through a translator, about the death of his daughter only to cry in front of his other child; and a woman named Olivia, who is in considerably less pain for her husband. Stone suspects it is due to her having an affair.

In a bar, Will and Stone discuss their lives to each other. Will talks about his girlfriend rejecting him and tells Stone about his father's death due to drunk driving, along with tales of his estranged mother. Will sees Olivia with her son at a store confronting men attempting to enlist teenagers and dismisses them before offering her a ride. He fixes her car and becomes friends with both her and her young son Matt. After hearing Kelly's voicemail, he punches a hole through his wall in a fit of rage. He arrives at Olivia's house and almost has sex with her before they decide not to; she tells him about how her husband mistreated her and how he abused her son, clearing up suspicion of her cheating on him by Stone.

When Will comforts a family in a local grocery store after telling them of their son's fate, Stone berates him for it. Will stands up to his rank by using his first name, Tony, and tells him that humans deserve compassion, before walking home on his own. They make up, however, and end up at Kelly's wedding drunk, attempting to ridicule her and Alan. They wake up in a forest after passing out, and go home. Dale Martin apologizes for lashing out at Will and shakes his hand. Will and Tony go to the latter's apartment; Will tells Tony about his experience with a friend who died while battling in Iraq, and how he feels his bravery is meaningless as he could not do anything for him. Will explains a suicide attempt from a hospital window was thwarted from his mind when he saw the sunrise, and after he leaves the room Tony breaks down in tears.

The next day, Olivia decides to move from her house. She tells him that she is going with her son to Louisiana, as Will tells her he is considering staying in the army.

Cast

Production

The Messenger marked the directorial debut of Israeli screenwriter and former journalist Oren Moverman. Though Sydney Pollack, Roger Michell, and Ben Affleck were all attached to direct the movie at various times, when those talks fell through, the producers eventually asked Moverman to helm the project.[2] The filmmakers worked closely with the United States Army and the Walter Reed Medical Center to conduct research on military life, and were specifically advised by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Sinor as a technical consultant.[3]

Release

Box Office

The Messenger premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival before receiving a limited release in North America in 4 theaters.[4] It grossed $44,523 for an average of $11,131 per theater ranking 46th at the box office, and went on to earn $1.1 million domestically and $411,601 internationally for a total of $1.5 million, against its budget of $6.5 million.[5]

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 89% based on 157 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The site's critical consensus states, "A dark but timely subject is handled deftly by writer/director Owen Moverman and superbly acted by Woody Harrleson and Ben Foster."[6] On Metacritic the film has a score of 77 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[7]

Harrelson's performance was subject to considerable praise, leading to Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor.[8]

Awards and Nominations

Year Ceremony Category Recipients Result
2009 14th Satellite Awards Best Drama Film The Messenger Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
15th Critics' Choice Awards Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Samantha Morton Nominated
16th Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role Woody Harrelson Nominated
25th Independent Spirit Awards Best First Feature The Messenger Nominated
Best Supporting Male Woody Harrelson Won
Best Supporting Female Samantha Morton Nominated
Best Screenplay Alessandro Camon
Oren Moverman
Nominated
36th Saturn Awards Best Action / Adventure / Thriller Film The Messenger Nominated
59th Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear - Best Film The Messenger Nominated
Silver Bear - Best Screenplay Alessandro Camon
Oren Moverman
Won
67th Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
82nd Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Alessandro Camon
Oren Moverman
Nominated
2009 National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Supporting Actress Samantha Morton Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Deauville American Film Festival Grand Prix The Messenger Won
Denver Film Critics Society Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Gotham Independent Film Awards 2009 Breakthrough Performer Ben Foster Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Samantha Morton Nominated
National Board of Review Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Won
Best Directorial Debut Oren Moverman Won
Online Film Critics Society Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards 2009 Best Actor Ben Foster Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Samantha Morton Won
Best Original Screenplay Alessandro Camon
Oren Moverman
Nominated
Best Ensemble Performance Acting Ensemble Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards 2009 Best Director Oren Moverman Nominated
Best Actor Ben Foster Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Samantha Morton Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Samantha Morton Nominated

Top ten lists

The Messenger, upon receiving strong positive reviews from audiences, appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2009.[9]

References

  1. ^ a b The Messenger (2009). Box Office Mojo (2010-05-13). Retrieved on 2011-04-03.
  2. ^ Metro – An intimate look at grief found in the heart of war. Metronews.ca. Retrieved on 2010-11-26.
  3. ^ Interview: The Messenger's Oren Moverman. Ioncinema.Com (2009-11-11). Retrieved on 2010-11-26.
  4. ^ Todd McCarthy (2008-12-04). "More star power at Sundance". Variety. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
  5. ^ "The Messenger (2009) - Box Office Mojo".
  6. ^ "The Messenger". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  7. ^ "The Messenger". MetaCritic. Retrieved December 14, 2009.
  8. ^ Golden Globes Nominations Are Revealed. Empireonline.com. Retrieved on 2010-11-26.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Metacritic: 2009 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-05.

External links

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