The Messenger (2009 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Oren Moverman|
|Produced by||Mark Gordon
|Written by||Alessandro Camon
|Edited by||Alexander Hall|
|Distributed by||Oscilloscope Laboratories|
|Running time||113 minutes|
The Messenger is a 2009 war drama film starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Steve Buscemi, Jena Malone, and Samantha Morton. 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.
Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), a lone rebellious U.S. Army staff sergeant and declared war hero, has returned home from Iraq, and since he served enough war time, he is assigned as a casualty notification officer. Montgomery is partnered with a strict recovering alcoholic, Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), to give notice to the families of fallen soldiers. The Sergeant is drawn to Olivia Pitterson (Samantha Morton), now a single mother, to whom he has delivered news of her husband’s death.
- Ben Foster as Staff Sgt. Will Montgomery
- Woody Harrelson as Capt. Tony Stone
- Steve Buscemi as Dale Martin
- Jena Malone as Kelly
- Yaya DaCosta as Monica Washington
- Samantha Morton as Olivia Pitterson
- Fiona Dourif as Returning Soldier's Wife
- Eamonn Walker as Lt. Col Stuart Dorsett
- Peter Francis James as Dr. Grosso
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. 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.
In North America, The Messenger opened in limited release in 4 theaters and grossed $44,523 for an average of $11,131 per theater ranking 46th at the box office. The film went on to earn $1,109,660 domestically and $411,601 internationally for a total of $1,521,261, below its budget of $6.5 million.
Though not a box office success, the film was praised by critics and has a 90% 'Certified Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 155 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5 out of 10. The critical consensus states " A dark but timely subject is handled deftly by writer/directer Owen Moverman and superbly acted by Woody Harrleson and Ben Foster."  The film also currently holds a score of 77 on Metacritic based on 27 reviews. Harrelson's performance was subject to considerable praise, leading to Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor.
Top ten lists
The Messenger received strong positive reviews from critics and appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2009.
- 3rd: Robert Mondello, NPR
- 4th: Ty Burr, Boston Globe
- 4th: Stephen Holden, The New York Times
- 9th: Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
- 10th: Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
- Top 10: David Denby, The New Yorker
Awards and nominations
- The Messenger (2009). Box Office Mojo (2010-05-13). Retrieved on 2011-04-03.
- Todd McCarthy (2008-12-04). "More star power at Sundance". Variety. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- The Messenger full synopsis at contentfilm.com
- Metro – An intimate look at grief found in the heart of war. Metronews.ca. Retrieved on 2010-11-26.
- Interview: The Messenger's Oren Moverman. Ioncinema.Com (2009-11-11). Retrieved on 2010-11-26.
- "The Messenger". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
- "The Messenger". MetaCritic. Retrieved December 14, 2009.
- Golden Globes Nominations Are Revealed. Empireonline.com. Retrieved on 2010-11-26.
- "Metacritic: 2009 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-01-05.[dead link]