Last night I saw a film that utterly and brutally got to me: The Messenger (2009). It was so well done.
Basically, it is about a Sergeant and a Captain assigned to personally deliver the news of fallen soldiers to their families. In the film, they said that during Vietnam, families were notified of their sons' death through a telegram. In this day and age, why not an email or a telephone call? Every "delivery" was a stunning revelation of human behavior.
Steve Buscemi plays the father of one of the soldiers who has died. His reaction is unexpected and intolerable. This may be a spoiler, but, I'll say it anyway: he does not go away. He comes back later in the film and wow, his performance just blew me away.
In the preview, it seems like this may be a romance between Ben Foster and Samantha Morton. It should have been developed that way possibly, or not promoted as a romance, and maybe more of a bromance between Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster. One of my friends thought that this was completely deceitful. However, if Hollywood is able to overlook that this film is semi-related to the Iraqi War, then maybe, just maybe it could be a contender for Best Picture. Maybe some of the actors will be nominated. It IS a longshot. However, the quality completely exceeds any misconceptions I had about the movie.
On a personal note, my brother did two tours in Iraq, and volunteered for a third. Everytime my mother called during those two years (approximately), I would be jumpy. And she called a lot! I can just imagine getting the news and being as destroyed and incredulous as some of the people in the movie. At least two of the women in the movie screamed their guts out upon finding that their sons or husbands had been killed.
It's highly recommended. However, if you don't like emotional dramas, this is not for you. I can say that I haven't loved any other of the Iraqi war movies. I liked Lions for Lambs, but it did not do well at the box office, and Tom Cruise gets on my nerves. The Kingdom wasn't that great, with the exception of a few performances. Grace is Gone was a tad boring, kind of alright, but definitely not to die for.
However, this film isn't about the Iraqi War, per se. It's just about humans. The movie has the perfect imbalance of humor and drama. From the beginning, it's a tearjerker. When it finally lets up, and I mean finally, there is a scene or two of intense humor. I have to say the ending might be a letdown, however, I have already explained that Ben Foster and Samantha Morton's relationship is not the focus.
See it or don't. If the Academy ends up nominating it, take their word and not mine.