While on a recent deployment to Iraq, US Army Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery is injured when an improvised explosive device goes off within close proximity to him. He is back in the States recovering from the more serious of those injuries, including one to his eye and leg. He has resumed a sexual relationship with his long time girlfriend Kelly, despite the fact that she is now engaged to another man who Will knows. With the few months Will has left in his enlistment, the army assigns him to the Casualty Notification Team in his area. Not having a background in counseling, psychology or grief management, he is unsure if he is well suited to this job. He is partnered with a career soldier, Captain Tony Stone, who teaches Will the precise protocol involved in the job. Tony tells Will, who quickly learns by on the job experience, that this job has its own dangers. As Will learns to adapt to the range of emotions of the next of kin, he is unprepared for the reaction of Olivia Pitterson, ... Written by
Several times throughout the movie, Captain Stone notifies next of kin of deceased soldiers without first getting positive confirmation that they are, in fact, the soldier's next of kin. Casualty Notification Officers are required to make sure that the person they are addressing is actually the next of kin before making notification. This is not a mistake that a professional like Captain Stone would make. See more »
Captain Tony Stone:
Civilian life's for people who ain't seen shit. It's too late for you, you've already seen the shit, you can't unsee it anymore. You can't be an insurance salesman now, brother, it's too fukin' late.
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NOT a war movie; NOT a movie about an ethical dilemma
I was fortunate enough to see this at the recent NY Drama Critics showcase, where both the director (Mr. Moverman) and a co-star (Woody Harrelson) participated in after-show Q&A. First of all, the film is superb - but the summaries I've seen so far do not do justice to what the movie is really about. Sure there are ethical dilemmas, sure there are soldiers who have returned from Iraq. But the great strength of this film is its focus on individual human beings and their reaction to humans' most important concerns: life, death and love. Oren Moverman - accomplishing this so beautifully, accurately and subtly in a small-budget film - is to be congratulated. Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Samantha Morton are all magically on the same wavelength in their performances. And the writing (by Camon and Moverman) acknowledges the fact that reasonably intelligent people might be watching... people who don't need every little detail spelled out. Oh yes - I should mention that there's a lot of humor interspersed throughout. The result of all this? The people you meet in this film will stay with you for a very long time - and you'll be glad for that.
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