Monday June 6th 2011
The Messenger premiered at Sundance in January 2009. Now, after just 29 short months, it’s found its merry way into UK cinemas courtesy of notorious mop-up distributor The Works. At the time it looked set for Oscar success, thanks to an awards-friendly subject matter (war, emotions and shit) and a 91% Rotten Tomatoes score. In the end though, critical adulation gave way to indifference and the film joined stuff like Good and Defiance in the endless cavern of Oscar-bait films considered just a little bit too boring, slight or shit to really make a dent on the Academy ballot.
In truth, it would be hard to feel too strongly one way or the other about The Messenger. Like The Hurt Locker, it exploits an inherently fascinating phenomenon (here it’s casualty notification rather than bomb disposal) to fashion four or five massively powerful sequences, around which are littered a range of uninteresting characters, situations and relationships. Woody Harrelson’s performance is perfectly serviceable, and Ben Foster’s FACE OF ULTIMATE SERIOUSNESS hasn’t lost any of its ultimate seriousness…
… but there’s essentially very little to take from The Messenger if you’ve already got it into your head that emotions are complicated and people are flawed.
File under forgettable.