August 14, 2010

#091: The Messenger (7/10)

I feel like it has been forever since I watched The Messenger, but I am just getting around to writing about it, almost 2 weeks later.  This film got almost no attention even though Woody was nominated for an oscar for his performance.  I probably would have skipped it if it hadn't shown up on Netflix's watch instantly selection.  I queued it up, but wasn't in any hurry to watch it. I expected it to be a boring movie with one worthwhile performance, but ultimately just another forgettable character drama.   However, I was surprised by how much this film and the performances resonated with me.  I give it a 7 out of 10.
I am so glad I watched this film.  From the beginning I could tell that plot was going to take a backseat, and we were going to spend most of our time getting to know these characters. These type of films are sometimes hard to grab onto and stay with to the end.  Not so with The Messenger.  I could tell early on we had a winner.

The biggest strength of The Messenger is the great acting performances we see by the two leads.  As the main character Ben Foster anchors the film.  The success of the movie hinges on the sincerity of his performance, and I think he delivers.  He is one of my favorite up-and-coming actors. I am really looking forward to see what he does next.  While Foster was great, Harrelson totally stole the show.  I felt like he did an amazing job in The Messenger.  Any time he was on screen, I was focused on him, and the movie was more fun to watch. There were a few stretches where we didn't see Woody for a while, and those were the times that seemed to drag.  It never got boring. I wanted to spend more time with Woody's character.  The film has a slow pace, but I was engaged all the way by how Harrelson commanded his time on screen.  Acting is not something I dwell on.  I can notice it when it's bad, but I don't usually focus on the acting when it's good.  This film is an exception.  Woody should have won the academy award.

I don't have a lot else to say about this film other than it is well made, well acted, and does a pretty great job telling the story.  With these slow burn type films they may not hit everybody the same way.  Sometimes you just have to be in the mood, and I guess I really was when I started this one up.  The Messenger is probably the best character drama I have seen this year.  At least I can't think of a better one at the moment.  If you haven't seen this film yet I would definitely recommend giving it a couple hours of your time.  I found it worthwhile.

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