After watching this movie, I am seriously doubting why the Academy put in The Hurt Locker in the Best Picture category instead of The Messenger.
The film is about Will Montgomery, a decorated war hero who returns from Iraq after being injured and is reassigned to the Army Casualty Notification Service. Basically, if some soldier dies in combat, he's the guy that has to go tell the loved ones that their son/husband/brother is dead. Shoveling pig shit doesn't sound so bad anymore.
What I love about this film is that it shows the other side of the people who have to bring the bad news to the soldier's families. Usually they just come, deliver the news and disappear. We never see the impact of what it's like for these people having to face hundreds of families everyday and tell them that their loved ones are dead. And the two actors, Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson captures that beautifully in this film.
I really hate that Ben Foster isn't nominated for Best Actor. This man is amazingly phenomenal playing an incredibly flawed soldier who's traumatized enough returning from the war but now having to bear this burden, there's only so much a guy can take. Same like Stanley Tucci in Lovely Bones, what sold his performance was his eyes. You can see so much suffering and so much pain. Wow.
And Woody Harrelson, my God was he amazing. I never knew this guy could act after watching him beat the shit out of zombies for a twinkie. He is the best performance in this film. His character starts out kinda like Tallahassee in Zombieland, he's this crazy guy that don't take no shit from nobody. And you think to yourself, how on earth can this guy be doing this job for so long and not be as emotionally strained like Ben Foster. But as the film progresses, we finally see how badly flawed his character really is.
The Messenger is a lot like the Hurt Locker. The Hurt Locker is about a group of soldiers going in everyday to defuse bombs. In The Messenger, it's about a group of soldiers going in everyday to tell hundreds of people that their loved ones are killed in the war. And between you and me.. I'd rather watch parents break down and go crazy when they find out their kid is dead than watching bombs explode.
Now, Hurt Locker was a fruckin intense film and I loved it but The Messenger had a much deeper impact on me. I mean, defusing live bombs everyday is scary enough, but when you are delivering news of a loved ones death to family members, you have no idea what's gonna happen. People's reaction to death varies all across the spectrum. And most of the time, these messengers become punching bags for the grieving families. I really felt worried for the two leads every time they go in to deliver a death, even more so than The Hurt Locker.
But this film will bore most people. The pacing is rather slow and it really takes time to develop the characters. The Messenger is a performance oriented film. You won't be finding any war action like in Hurt Locker. But personally, I preferred this to Hurt Locker.