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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.

Director:

Oren Moverman
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 44 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Paul Diomede ... Motorcycle Cop
Jahmir Duran-Abreau Jahmir Duran-Abreau ... Matt Pitterson
Gaius Charles ... Recruiter Brown
Brendan Sexton III ... Recruiter Olson
Brian Adam DeJesus ... Teenager #1 (as Brian DeJesus)
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

4 December 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El mensajero See more »

Filming Locations:

New Jersey, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$44,523, 15 November 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$66,637, 24 April 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only non-Best Picture nominee for the year to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay. See more »

Goofs

Montgomery's dress uniform is lacking the blue infantry cord and the blue infantry discs under the BOS pins. While Montgomery was not currently attached to an infantry unit he was still awarded the MOS of Combat Infantryman, this entitles the soldier to wear the blue cord and discs on the dress uniform indefinitely. See more »

Quotes

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.
See more »


Soundtracks

L.A. Groove
Written and performed by Stephen Lang
Published by Revision West
Courtesy of Marc Ferrari/MasterSource
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
An even-handed study of the war at home
18 October 2009 | by b1lskirnirSee all my reviews

I saw The Messenger (as well as Oren Moverman and Ben Foster luckily) at the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival and can say sincerely that I was captivated and moved by it for the majority of its runtime. No matter what your background or stance on the war, you need not worry because it is not a movie that attempts to have an opinion, but merely one that captures a different kind of war- one between civilians and the military, between following procedure and following what you believe.

In his last three months of service, Officer Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), is assigned to be a messenger to next-of-kins who have died in Iraq alongside the elder Lieutenant Anthony Stone (Woody Harrelson). He struggles with being the bearer of bad news to heartbroken parents and wives, delivering the messages to people of all ages, ethnicities, and social classes. His work becomes compromised, however, when complications with his girlfriend arise and he becomes involved with one of the widows, challenging his ethical and moral considerations. He plays the younger, more vulnerable to Harrelson's gruff, uncompromising, and often cold ethic.

The film is, in a word, compassionate, as it is almost entirely character-driven. The chemistry between Foster and Harrelson is incredible, demonstrating talent beyond the range of what one would expect for both actors. I would be very surprised if either one of these two were not nominated for an Academy Award. The cinematography is also very unusual, filmed in long takes, letting scenes unfold, rather than wide/medium/close- up/reverse formula, and heavily based on improvisation.

All in all, The Messenger is a touching story about the differences we can make in others' lives simply by being the right person to break the news and having an open heart. It's a tribute to the men and women in arms without letting political differences get in the way. A story of the war at home shared alike by civilians and military, it's hard not to feel emotionally affected.


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