The Messenger (2009 film)

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For other senses of this term, see The Messenger (Markus Zusak novel)
The Messenger
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
Edited by Alexander Hall
Distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories
Release dates
  • November 13, 2009 (2009-11-13)
Running time
113 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6.5 million[1]
Box office $1,521,261[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]



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.[4] 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.[5]


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.[6]

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/director Owen Moverman and superbly acted by Woody Harrleson [sic] and Ben Foster."[7] The film also currently holds a score of 77 on Metacritic based on 27 reviews.[8] Harrelson's performance was subject to considerable praise, leading to Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor.[9]

Top ten lists[edit]

The Messenger received strong positive reviews from critics and appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2009.[10]

Awards and nominations[edit]




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

External links[edit]