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Oscar watch review: The Messenger

From Oscilloscope Laboratories, director Oren Overman's gripping tale, The Messenger, starring Woody Harrelson (Captain Tony Stone) and Ben Foster (Seargant Will Montgomery), highlights the day to day functions of a sacred military unit known as C.N.O (Casualty Notification Officers).

Captain Tony Stone, seasoned in regards to the task of casualty notification is a Desert Storm veteran with a tight scowl and crude matter-of-fact demeanor. Stone, portrayed wonderfully by Golden Globe nominee Woody Harrelson, immediately becomes an intriguing character, and thus you may feel as if you, the viewer, have signed on to become the deliverer of harrowing news.

The Messenger is not a film shy about its theme, and it soon becomes apparent your emotions will be tested. Overman delivers a quiet yet thought provoking look into a side of the Army unknown to civilians, and offers a twist that deals purely with the conflicted ethics and morals of its main character Seargant Will Montgomery- who suddenly becomes enamored with the widow (Samantha Morton) of a slain soldier.

Often at odds with himself and his longing for an old flame,(Jena Malone) Will allows his hardened mentality to carry over toward his new duties for which he is not prepared for. As he deals with the effects of an injury and psychological effects associated with his tour of duty, his life appears empty and purposeless even though he is considered a war hero.

The Messenger takes you on an intense assignment. It pulls you into the homes of the unknowing, forces you to take in the shock and sadness bestowed upon family members receiving news that their loved ones have perished during war. Then, suddenly, it shifts, and we're left drained and saddened, all while watching Will Montgomery as he breaks the ethical code.

As expected the relationship of Stone and Montgomery becomes frayed as the two men battle each others differences. Overman extracts powerful performances from his cast and shed's light on the lonliness of two soldiers trying to find the men they were before they enlisted. As they deliver bad news we began to see, slowly, what lies beneath their tough exteriors.

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