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The Messenger (2009)

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An American soldier struggles with an ethical dilemma when he becomes involved with a widow of a fallen officer.


Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 44 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Monica Washington (as Yaya Dacosta)
Dale Martin
Paul Diomede ...
Motorcycle Cop
Jahmir Duran-Abreau ...
Brian Adam DeJesus ...
Teenager #1 (as Brian DeJesus)


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

4 December 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El mensajero  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$6,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$44,523 (USA) (13 November 2009)


$66,637 (USA) (22 April 2016)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The scene where Will and Olivia speak to each other in her kitchen is eight minutes long and was shot in one take. Oren Moverman allowed actors to improvise in certain scenes. See more »


SSG Montgomery should have at least two service stripes on his left sleeve, in addition to the missing Overseas Service Bars. Each service stripe denotes 3 years of service and he'd likely have at least 2 of them. See more »


Captain Tony Stone: You gotta wake the fuck up! You're not in high school, you're not in a fuckin' rock band, you're in the Army.
Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery: Yeah, I know. I know I'm in the Army. I gave blood to the Army. I got blown up in a fire-fight that lasted longer than your entire war. I didn't sunbath in Kuwait with the rest of the POGs.
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Featured in The Hour: Episode #7.130 (2011) See more »


To Kill
Written by Lillard Anthony, Kris Wismer, Al Walters
Performed by Putnam Hall
Published by Thousand Ingots Music
Courtesy of Rebel Lion Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

NOT a war movie; NOT a movie about an ethical dilemma
25 October 2009 | by (Northern NJ) – See all my reviews

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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