IMDb > The Messenger (2009/I)
The Messenger
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

The Messenger (2009/I) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 13 | slideshow) Videos (see all 3)
The Messenger -- A soldier (Foster) struggles with an ethical dilemma when he becomes involved with a widow of a fallen officer (Morton).
The Messenger -- Clip: What you actually need to do is pretty simple
The Messenger -- A soldier (Foster) struggles with an ethical dilemma when he becomes involved with a widow of a fallen officer (Morton).


User Rating:
7.2/10   27,408 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
MOVIEmeter: ?
Down 11% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers (WGA):
Alessandro Camon (written by) &
Oren Moverman (written by)
View company contact information for The Messenger on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
19 February 2010 (Brazil) See more »
An American soldier struggles with an ethical dilemma when he becomes involved with a widow of a fallen officer. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 34 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Restrained and ambitious See more (91 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Ben Foster ... Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery

Jena Malone ... Kelly

Eamonn Walker ... Colonel Stuart Dorsett

Woody Harrelson ... Captain Tony Stone

Yaya DaCosta ... Monica Washington (as Yaya Dacosta)

Portia ... Mrs. Burrell

Lisa Joyce ... Emily

Steve Buscemi ... Dale Martin

Peter Francis James ... Dr. Grosso

Samantha Morton ... Olivia Pitterson
Paul Diomede ... Motorcycle Cop
Jahmir Duran-Abreau ... Matt Pitterson

Gaius Charles ... Recruiter Brown

Brendan Sexton III ... Recruiter Olson

Brian Adam DeJesus ... Teenager #1 (as Brian DeJesus)
T.J. Allen ... Teenager #2

Halley Feiffer ... Marla Cohen

Peter Friedman ... Mr. Cohen

Jeremy Strong ... Returning Soldier

Fiona Dourif ... Returning Soldier's Wife
Lindsay Michelle Nader ... Claire

Merritt Wever ... Lara

Carl Anthony Payne II ... Pitterson's Father (as Carl Payne)
Francis A. Adams ... Firing Party Team Leader
J. Salome Martinez ... Captain Garcia (as J. Salome Martinez Jr.)
Angel Caban ... Mr. Vasquez
Kevin Hagan ... Mr. Flanigan

Marceline Hugot ... Mrs. Flanigan

Michael Chernus ... Alan

Stevie Ray Dallimore ... Kelly's Father
Dale Soules ... Cashier
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Steve Antonucci ... Soldier (uncredited)
Sara Jane Blazo ... Kelly's Mom (uncredited)
Robert Feeley ... Vietnam Veteran (uncredited)

Donna Ross ... Soldiers Friend (uncredited)
Karen Summerton ... Flirty Girl (uncredited)
Francine Bianco Tax ... Reception Pianist (uncredited)

Directed by
Oren Moverman 
Writing credits
Alessandro Camon (written by) &
Oren Moverman (written by)

Produced by
Steffen Aumueller .... executive producer (as Steffen Aumüller)
Gwen Bialic .... co-producer
Claus Clausen .... executive producer
Benjamin Goldhirsh .... executive producer (as Ben Goldhirsh)
Mark Gordon .... producer
Lawrence Inglee .... producer
Raymond Mansfield .... production executive
Christopher Mapp .... executive producer
Zach Miller .... producer
Shaun Redick .... executive producer
Glenn M. Stewart .... executive producer
Matthew Street .... executive producer
David Whealy .... executive producer
Bryan Zuriff .... executive producer
Original Music by
Nathan Larson 
Cinematography by
Bobby Bukowski (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Alex Hall 
Casting by
Ali Farrell 
Laura Rosenthal 
Production Design by
Stephen Beatrice 
Set Decoration by
Cristina Casanas 
Costume Design by
Catherine George 
Makeup Department
Colleen Callaghan .... hair department head
Joseph Farulla .... special effects makeup (as Joe Farulla)
J. Ferrera .... additional hair stylist
Fabian Garcia .... key hair stylist
Sharon Ilson .... key makeup artist (as Sharon Ilson Burke)
Production Management
Luca Borghese .... post-production supervisor
Carrie Fix .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Timothy S. Kane .... second second assistant director
Scott Larkin .... second assistant director
Curtis Smith .... first assistant director (as Curtis A. Smith Jr.)
Art Department
Scott G. Anderson .... additional art director (as Scott Anderson)
Safa Ansarifar .... art department assistant
Junior Cyrus Baron .... on-set dresser (as Junior Baron)
James Bednark .... art department supervisor (as James R. Bednark)
Sarah Bricker .... assistant property master (as Sarah E. Bricker)
Travis Child .... camera scenic
Olenka Denysenko .... property assistant
Gino Fortebuono .... property assistant
Fitzgerald Francois .... set dresser (as Fritzgerald Francois)
David Scott Gagnon .... leadman (as D. Scott Gagnon)
Emily Gaunt .... scenic charge
Shauna Kellin .... scenic charge
Hank Liebeskind .... set dresser
Elizabeth 'Biz' Lynch .... art department intern
Henry Marshall .... set dresser (as Henry Wulster)
Michele Mayas .... scenic
Vinny Mazzarella .... property master
Carla Messina .... scenic
Michael Lee Nirenberg .... scenic charge (as Mike Niremberg)
Celia Parker .... scenic
Michael Powsner .... on-set dresser
Bob Provenzano .... set dresser (as Bobby Provenzano)
Mike Reiersen .... art department assistant (as Michael Reiersen)
Niquan Riley .... property assistant (as Nequain Riley)
Rosalie Russino .... scenic (as Rosalier Russino)
James Seccafico .... set dresser
Jeffrey Smith .... art department assistant
Boaz Tcherikover .... art department assistant
Sylvia Trapanese .... scenic
Ian Bell .... props assistant (uncredited)
Sound Department
Javier Bennassar .... supervising sound editor
Caoimhe Doyle .... foley artist
Brian Dunlop .... foley editor
Marshall Garlington .... re-recording sound mixer
Anguibe Guindo .... boom operator
Jack Heeren .... foley mixer
Ken Ishii .... production sound mixer
Robert Jackson .... adr supervisor (as Bob Jackson)
Goro Koyama .... foley artist
Andy Malcolm .... foley artist
Joe Origlieri .... utility sound (as Joseph Origlieri)
Gabriel J. Serrano .... sound recordist (as Gabriel Serrano)
Leslie Shatz .... re-recording sound mixer
Leslie Shatz .... supervising sound editor
Callie Thurman .... assistant sound editor
Don White .... foley mixer
Mandell Winter .... dialogue editor
Javier Bennassar .... sound designer (uncredited)
Pam DeMetruis-Thomas .... adr editor (uncredited)
Mark DeSimone .... adr mixer: New York (uncredited)
Brooke Graeff .... foley assistant (uncredited)
Jan Petrov .... adr recordist (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
John Bair .... visual effects supervisor: Guerilla FX
Vivian Connolly .... visual effects producer: Guerilla FX
Markus Janner .... scanning: deluxe New York
Chris MacKenzie .... smoke artist: deluxe New York (as Chris Mackenzie)
Sergei Martirosov .... digital compositor: Guerilla FX
Scott Winston .... digital compositor: Guerilla FX
Blaise Corrigan .... stunt coordinator
William Cote .... stunts (as Will Cote)
Geoffrey Dowell .... stunts (as Geoff Dowell)
Christopher Place .... stunts (as Chris Place)
Camera and Electrical Department
Olga Abramson .... second assistant camera: "b" camera
Christian Baird .... additional electrician
Matt Blades .... key grip
Timothy Alan Blagg .... additional grip
Peter Bulavinetz .... additional grip (as Peter Bulawinetz)
Michael F. Burke .... first assistant camera
Beverly Cable .... additional electrician (as Beverly Jones)
James Casey .... grip
Kai Wai Cheng .... grip
Luis Contreras .... electrician
Ron Egozi .... camera operator
Sergei Franklin .... steadicam operator
John Gabriele .... additional grip
Bob Gambardella .... additional electrician (as Robert Gamberdella)
John Gatland .... best boy grip
Stephen Girouard .... additional grip
Donald Glenn .... dolly grip
Andrew Greve .... additional electrician
Erik Guldbech .... additional electrician
Lauren Haber .... second assistant camera
Nick Haines-Stiles .... grip
Tom Hamilton .... additional electrician
Sarah L. Hendrick .... second assistant camera: "b" camera (as Sarah Hendricks)
Petr Hlinomaz .... camera operator
Alex Irwin .... camera intern
Mike Jackson .... generator operator
Linda Kallerus .... first assistant camera: "b" camera (as Linda Slater)
Mark T. Karinja .... additional electrician (as Mark Karinja)
Kathleen King .... 24-frame playback: Visual Alchemy
Michael Kirsch .... grip
Daniel Luebke .... additional electrician (as Dan Luebke)
Andrew Maher .... camera intern
Brendon Malone .... additional grip
Michael C. Maronna .... electrician
Ken McCallum .... additional grip (as Kenneth Mccallum)
Camilo Mendoza .... camera intern (as Camillo Mendoza)
Evan C. Newell .... film loader
Paul Niccolls .... additional grip
Timothy J. Owen .... additional electrician
Andrew Palmer .... additional electrician
Antonio Ponti .... first assistant camera: "b" camera
Mike Quigley .... additional electrician (as Michael Quigley)
Leigh Rathner .... second assistant camera: "b" camera
Christopher Raymond .... first assistant camera: "b" camera (as Chris Raymond)
David Regan .... camera intern (as Dave Regan)
Guillaume Renberg .... camera crane operator (as Guillame Renberg)
Andrew Roddewig .... additional electrician
Francisco Rosario .... additional electrician
Ilse Rumes .... additional electrician
Joe Sarao .... additional grip (as Joseph Sarao)
Michael Sarluco .... additional electrician
Leo A. Schott III .... additional electrician (as Leo Shcott III)
Randy Schwartz .... second assistant camera: "b" camera
Michael Simmonds .... camera operator
Markham Sindeband .... additional grip
Paul Swan .... additional grip
Niko Tavernise .... still photographer
Jason Velez .... gaffer
Ryan Velez .... electrician
G. Robert Vornkahl .... additional electrician (as Robert Vornkahl)
Jonathan S. Wolowec .... additional electrician (as Jonathan Wolowec)
Rob Woolsey .... additional grip (as Robert Woolsey)
Zenfeek .... best boy electric (as Jon Zenfeek Unjang)
Christopher DelSordo .... additional first assistant camera (uncredited)
Casting Department
Karen E. Etcoff .... background casting: Kee Casting (as Karen Etcoff)
Maribeth Fox .... casting associate
Bill Tripician .... background casting associate
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Tamara Cepeda .... costume assistant (as Tamara E. Cepeda)
Amelie Chunleau .... costume intern
Marietta L. Clark .... set costumer
John Corbo .... set costumer
Cameron Dale .... assistant costume designer (as Cameron Folan)
Jeryd Nicole Hernandez .... costume intern
Deanna Nolasco .... costume intern
Elisa Santiago .... key costumer
Danielle Smith .... set costumer (as Danielle Stephenson)
Deirdre N. Williams .... costume supervisor (as Deirdre Williams)
Editorial Department
David Sherman Broad .... post-production intern (as David Broad)
Jason Crump .... dailies colorist: Mega Playground
Cristina Esteras-Ortiz .... dailies manager: Mega Playground
Joe Gawler .... supervising digital intermediate colorist: Deluxe New York
Agnes Grandits .... first assistant editor (as Agnés Challe-Grandits)
Duck Grossberg .... data wrangler: Deluxe New York
Alex Kopit .... assistant editor (as Alexander Kopit)
Shikha Nirula .... dailies manager: Mega Playground
Tony Osso .... post-production intern
Alexander Rachel .... post-production intern (as Alex Rachel)
Jacob Robinson .... digital intermediate editor: Deluxe New York
Justin Sindone .... post-production intern
Darrell R. Smith .... digital intermediate coordinator: Deluxe New York
Mike Smollin .... dailies colorist: Mega Playground
Mitchell Ferm .... digital intermediate producer (uncredited)
Cam McLauchlin .... digital intermediate editor (uncredited)
John Potter .... video mastering (uncredited)
Music Department
Julia Bembenek .... music coordinator
A.A. Bondy .... composer: "Rapture (Sweet Rapture ")
Brian Bulman .... music editor
Clare Felice .... composer: "Rapture (Sweet Rapture ")
Nathan Larson .... musician: score
Kevin March .... musician: score
Tracy McKnight .... music supervisor
Colby Trane .... music coordinator
Transportation Department
Henry S. Avelin .... transportation captain
Ronald Baum .... driver: grip
Ian Bharath .... driver: fuel truck/two room
Paul Elliacin .... additional driver (as Paul Eliacin)
Frank Fennimore .... additional driver
Tom Fennimore .... driver: hair, makeup, wardrobe (as Thomas Fennimore)
Donald Fernicola .... driver: honeywagon (as Donald J. Fernicola)
Brent Godek .... car technician
George Grenier .... driver: star trailer
James Jardinella .... car technician
Joseph L. Johnson .... additional driver
Dennis Kelly .... transportation co-captain (as Dennis J. Kelly)
John Kelly .... driver: cast
Michael Papa .... additional driver
James T. Quinn .... additional driver
Stephen Rudolph Reeves .... driver: electric
Ray Roy Jr. .... additional driver
Joseph Scarpone .... driver: set dressing (as Joseph J. Scarpone)
Gary Valovich .... additional driver
Brian Weinstein .... additional driver
Other crew
Jason Acevedo .... craft service: J&P Craft
Rajab Aesop .... craft service assistant: J&P Craft
Colleen Arnerich .... additional office production assistant
John Bair .... title designer: main and end titles
Chris Barnes .... marine coordinator
Graham Begg .... head of film & television finance: ContentFilm International
Eric R. Bellamy .... payroll accountant
Deborah Blake .... set medic
Katie Brewer Ball .... set production assistant
Lauren Butler .... assistant production coordinator (as Lauren Butler-Dougherty)
Ann Clark .... attorney: Greenberg Traurig
Samuel Clark .... additional set production assistant
Brendan Cormody .... office intern
Jen Cox .... production accountant
Amy Crowdis .... additional set production assistant (as Amy C. Crowdis)
Gregory Cuozzo .... assistant chef: Gourmet To U
Frank Dauro .... key set production assistant
Katherine DeJesus .... second assistant accountant (as Katherine Dejesus)
Fizaa Dosani .... producers asssistant
Christiaan Faberij de Jonge .... set production assistant (as Christiaan Faberij De Jonge)
Gabriel Greenberg .... location scout (as Gabriel Greenburg)
George Grenier Jr. .... craft service assistant: J&P Craft
Jon Haller .... assistant: Mr. Moverman (as Jonathan Haller)
Jonathan Hood .... office production assistant
Michael Iduda .... parking assistant
Abimael Jackson .... location assistant (as Abimael Jackson-Viana)
Jen M. Johnson .... set intern (as Jen Johnson)
Jared Kaufmann .... assistant: Mr. Foster
Alexandra Keen .... head of legal and business affairs
Joe Kelly .... electronic press kit
Sonia Kifferstein .... assistant: Mr. Inglee
Dan Lasik .... assistant chef: Gourmet To U (as Dan Lasiy)
Lindsey Lefkow .... production secretary
Theresa Marsh .... first assistant accountant (as Theresa L. Marsh)
Harold McDougall .... attorney: Greenberg Traurig (as Harold Mcdougall IV)
John Merchant .... assistant: Mr. Harrelson
John Merchant .... electronic press kit
Tasha Morris .... office production assistant (as Tasha E. Morris)
Ashanti Myke .... additional set production assistant
Zoe Nadel .... assistant: Mr. Inglee and Mr. Miller (as Zoë Nadel)
Nick Naney .... office intern
Lisa Nitti .... attorney: Greenberg Traurig
Douglas Odell .... water safety
Ayo Ogundele .... parking coordinator
Olabisi Olagunju .... parking assistant
Olawale Onakoya .... parking assistant
Clinton Orman .... office intern
Tony Osso .... script supervisor
Greg Outcalt .... production coordinator
Phillip Owolani .... parking assistant
Holly Pakfar .... set production assistant
Meredith Petty .... assistant: Ms. Morton
Jorge Pina .... chef: Gourmet To U (as Jorge M. Piña)
Daniel Pollack .... location scout (as Dan Pollack)
John Puccinelli .... set production assistant
Bev Reese .... office intern
Lance Rizzo .... accounting clerk
Allison Robin .... clearance supervisor
Donte Robinson .... parking assistant
Allyson Seeger .... assistant: Mr. Gordon
Shara Senderoff .... assistant: Mr. Gordon
Ben Shirai .... office intern
Paul Sinor .... military assistant: Department of Defense Project Officer and Military Technical Advisor (as Lieutenant Colonel Paul Sinor US Army)
Ryan Smith .... location manager
Jennifer Sonnenfeld .... location production assistant
Sascha Springer .... assistant location manager
Philip M. Strub .... military assistant: special assistant for entertainment media, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (as Philip Strub)
A.J. Swirz .... location production assistant
Abbey Taylor .... set production assistant (as Abagail Taylor)
Anthony Torre .... chef: Gourmet To U
Kristin Torre .... assistant chef: Gourmet To U
Jon Vernon .... electronic press kit
Rob Buschgans .... accounting clerk (uncredited)
Fabrizia Dal Farra .... stand-in (uncredited)
Dann Fink .... adr loop group director (uncredited)
Ben Affleck .... special thanks
Wren Arthur .... special thanks
Bristol Baughan .... special thanks
Richard H. Birdsong .... special thanks (as Colonel Richard H. Birdsong MD)
Terra Bliss-Alvarez .... special thanks (as Terra Bliss)
David Bollt .... special thanks: tattoo design by
Amy Bonuso .... special thanks
Tony Bonuso .... special thanks
Anthony Bregman .... special thanks
Tom Brit .... special thanks: The Stage House Restaurant & Bar
Fiona Buck .... dedicatee
Jeff Buckley .... dedicatee
Andrew Burns .... special thanks (as LTC Andrew Burns)
George Carlin .... dedicatee
Frank Cassavetes .... special thanks (as Frankie Cassavetes)
David Connolly .... special thanks
Will Cook .... special thanks
Archie Drury .... special thanks
Thomas Duch .... special thanks
Jacqueline Eckhouse .... special thanks (as Jackie Eckhouse)
Art Edelstein .... special thanks
Bethany Escudero .... special thanks
Mitchell Ferm .... special thanks
Milton Finkelstein .... dedicatee
Pascual J. 'Tito' Flores .... special thanks (as Staff Sergeant Pascual J. 'Tito' Flores)
Sidney Fuller .... dedicatee
Barry Goldenberg .... special thanks
Terry Goodman .... special thanks: Public Affairs Officer, WRAMC
Anouk Grandits .... special thanks
Clea Grandits .... special thanks
Sean Grandits .... special thanks
Sylvia Grossman .... dedicatee
Eitan Hakami .... special thanks
Chanda Hall .... special thanks
Layla Hall .... special thanks
Skye Hall .... special thanks
Alex Halpern .... special thanks
Julianne Hausler .... special thanks
Todd Hido .... special thanks
Shane Holland .... dedicatee
William Horberg .... special thanks (as Bill Horberg)
Carl M. Johnson .... special thanks: HRL (as Col. Carl M. Johnson)
Hardwick Johnson .... special thanks (as Hardwrick Johnson)
Peter Kaufman .... special thanks
Philip Kaufman .... special thanks
Lodge Kerrigan .... special thanks
Russell Lee Klicka .... special thanks (as Staff Sergeant Russell Lee Klicka)
Chris Koch .... special thanks
Daniel Krasun .... dedicatee
John Kriegl .... special thanks
Shari Lawrence .... special thanks: Public Affairs Officer, HRC (as Ms. Shari Lawrence)
Robert Lax .... special thanks
Stan Lee .... dedicatee
Alden Leifer .... special thanks (as Dr. Alden Leifer)
Matt Leipzig .... special thanks
Andrew Lichtenstein .... special thanks
Kevin Logan .... special thanks: HRC (as Mr. Kevin Logan)
Laura Louie .... special thanks
Jennifer Mancino .... special thanks (as Jenny Mancino)
Raymond Mansfield .... thanks
Mary Ellen Mark .... special thanks
Roger Michell .... special thanks
Charles Morton .... special thanks
Amir Moverman .... special thanks
Ehud Moverman .... special thanks
Maya Moverman .... special thanks
Orly Moverman .... special thanks
Sharon Moverman .... special thanks
Tamar Moverman .... special thanks
Yael Moverman .... special thanks
Annie Nelson .... special thanks
Carolee Nisbet .... special thanks: Public Affairs Officer
Jonathan Nossiter .... special thanks
Jim O'Hagen .... special thanks (as Jimmy O'Hagen)
Jim Oorthuys .... special thanks
Max Patel .... special thanks
Tom Petty .... dedicatee
Pearle Plante .... dedicatee
Sydney Pollack .... special thanks
Frank Puccinelli .... dedicatee
Bingham Ray .... special thanks
Phil Rizzuto .... dedicatee
Russ Robertson .... special thanks
Ann Ruark .... special thanks
Ira Sachs .... special thanks
Carly Schmidt .... special thanks
Michael Sheresky .... special thanks
Robert Spiegel .... special thanks: Edison Wetlands Association
Daniel Steinman .... special thanks
Anthony Swofford .... special thanks
Jeff Swofford .... dedicatee
John Tolleson .... special thanks: Bark-B
Daniel Wagner .... special thanks
Suzanne Warren .... special thanks
Kenneth Washington .... special thanks: Ft. Myer (as Mr. Kenneth Washington)
Bruce Waterfall .... dedicatee
David Wheeler .... special thanks: Edison Wetlands Association
Ron Yoshida .... special thanks
Rita Zanipatti .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity
113 min | Germany:105 min (Berlin International Film Festival)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:MA | Brazil:14 | Canada:14A (British Columbia/Manitoba/Ontario) | Finland:K-13 | Germany:12 | Hong Kong:III | Ireland:15A | Japan:R15+ | Netherlands:12 | Portugal:M/16 (Qualidade) | Singapore:M18 | UK:15 | USA:R (certificate #44973)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Director Oren Moverman had wanted to have a scene with Will and Tony singing a song but couldn't decide which song to sing, and settled on Home on the Range after hearing the song being played from an ice cream truck while scouting locations. This is then paid homage to after Will's first notification when he's sitting in Will's car and an ice cream truck passes by playing Home on the Range.See more »
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): (at around 1 min) Capt. Tony Stewart and SSGT Will Montgomery enter the house and sit on the couch without removing their caps.See more »
Captain Tony Stone:It should be in the next couple of blocks...
Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery:We should just ask someone.
Captain Tony Stone:No! First of all, *men* don't ask for directions. Much less soldiers.
See more »
Walls BetweenSee more »


Is anyone familiar with the song playing at the 12ish minute mark? Song also plays when SSG Montgomery punches a hole in the wall.
See more »
21 out of 22 people found the following review useful.
Restrained and ambitious, 7 August 2010
Author: oyason from Seattle

THE MESSENGER is by far and away one of the best works of art that addresses the deep tragedy behind the current U.S. war in the Middle East that I've seen. THE MESSENGER is an attempt by Director Oren Moverman and screen writer Alessandro Camon to place themselves between the ears of two career soldiers who serve a vital place in U.S. Army Special Services, Casualty Notification teams who inform the families of soldiers that their family member has been killed in battle. As someone who remembers full well the devastating feeling you got in your insides when you saw these teams turn up at the quarters of friends and their families when my own father was serving in Vietnam in the late 1960s, I found the film an important effort.

Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) is a Iraqi war veteran recovering from a battlefield wound who is reassigned to a State Department and United States Army Casualty Notification team, which is led by Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson). Montgomery is also facing an impending breakup with his girlfriend Kelly (Jena Malone), who is playing him off against a wealthy, established suitor. When he is assigned to Stone's team, he is at first resentful. The military decorum which is demanded of the Casualty Notification Team is very exacting, with learned routines that come from a spit and polish military professionalism that requires a distance that is extremely difficult to attain.

What follows is a series of well connected vignettes, in which the younger soldier is asked to stride this nether world between the jaundiced, dry-drunk outlook of the seasoned bearer of bad news, Captain Stone. Stone is a bitter man with some frustrated ambitions of his own, which are revealed late in the film. Obsessed with sexual victories and teeter tottering between professional sobriety and complete emotional collapse, Stone is far from a steady colleague mentor. Encounters between he and Montgomery go into emotional roller coaster as each man learns to accept the other on his own terms while acting out an extremely trying professional military role.

In short time, Montgomery comes into contact with the widow of a soldier who sparks his interest, and becomes torn between professionalism and attraction to the young widow Olivia Pitterson (Samantha Morton). Montgomery is forced to grow into himself, despite his outward cynicism, and in short time begins to mentor his mentor, Captain Stone. The story has an open ending, with Montgomery seeking to be part of the life of widow Olivia as she is seeking to reestablish herself in New Orleans. No morals are offered, and this is the true strength of the work as a whole. There isn't much humor to be found here, but watch for the scene where a bender fried Montgomery and Stone attend the wedding reception of the woman who has broken Montgomery's heart. The lampoon of upper middle class phoniness is priceless.

The beauty of THE MESSENGER is that it does not fall into the usual pro war or antiwar camps that film making in an era like our own are usually so encumbered with. The film makers are ambitious and restrained. I have no idea whether the plot line is itself "contrived" as some here have argued, which I have to say is a rather ridiculous critique given that movies are rarely anything but "contrived", and this is particularly true of the genre we call the war film. Some who have written here seem to believe that the film discredits the "professionalism" of those who do the work of Stone and Montgomery, as though "professionalism" were itself some sort of fetish that protects one from emotional or mental illness generated by both war time trauma and the mystique of military culture. Such are the times in which we live, ideological blather is rampant.

THE MESSENGER is important because, in the words of that great Vietnam war era politician, the late President Lyndon Baines Johnson, it is art, it shows us who we are, not who we say we are, not who we think we are, but who we are as a people, and as a political culture. At various moments, it is clunky. But it is an early effort to give some true definition about what the debacle in Iraq has done to our culture, and to the people who are expected to do the dirty work of the empire's war machine. It is a rare gem in mainstream contemporary U.S. film making.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (91 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Messenger (2009)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
There's No Crying In Baseball -- Absolutely Not in the Military nuke_houston
nudity jogbike
Uniform Nitpicks B_Profane
vomit scene? rebeccalang2013
Samantha Morton Julia-3
Realistic Eating patf128
See more »


If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
Jarhead Rachel Getting Married Kings & Queen Blue Valentine The Kids Are All Right
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb Drama section IMDb USA section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.