Ben Foster in The Messenger'The Messenger' was a standout at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and reviews continue to be positive, with a few exceptions, as the movie hits theaters. Inspired by his own experience in the Israeli military, director (and co-writer) Oren Moverman has crafted an emotionally intense film about an Iraqi War hero (Ben Foster) assigned to the U.S. Army's Casualty Notification Service. In his unenviable task of notifying the families of those killed in action, he is partnered by an older, crustier career soldier (Woody Harrelson), with whom he forms an unlikely friendship.

Though the subject matter is uncomfortable, critics generally agree it's handled nicely, while the performances of Foster and Harrelson are almost uniformly praised. Some reviewers cite the subplot involving a war widow (Samantha Morton) as the film's weakest spot.
div>Ben Foster in The Messenger'The Messenger' was a standout at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and reviews continue to be positive, with a few exceptions, as the movie hits theaters. Inspired by his own experience in the Israeli military, director (and co-writer) Oren Moverman has crafted an emotionally intense film about an Iraqi War hero (Ben Foster) assigned to the U.S. Army's Casualty Notification Service. In his unenviable task of notifying the families of those killed in action, he is partnered by an older, crustier career soldier (Woody Harrelson), with whom he forms an unlikely friendship.

Though the subject matter is uncomfortable, critics generally agree it's handled nicely, while the performances of Foster and Harrelson are almost uniformly praised. Some reviewers cite the subplot involving a war widow (Samantha Morton) as the film's weakest spot.

New York Times: "Mr. Harrelson, using his natural affability as a mask for his character's pain and insecurity, has never been better. And with this performance Mr. Foster, having shown intriguing promise in 'Alpha Dog' and '3:10 to Yuma,' places himself in the first rank of young American screen actors. Their work is well supported by Jena Malone, as Will's former girlfriend, and especially by Samantha Morton, playing a soldier's widow with whom he becomes shyly and half-guiltily infatuated. The script for 'The Messenger,' which Mr. Moverman wrote with Alessandro Camon, has been purged of melodrama, and also of the glum indie-film conventions that weigh down so many forays into local realism. Though there are a few scenes that seem more written than lived, the film as a whole is remarkably textured, with room for humor as well as anguish."

The Hollywood Reporter: "Offering another perspective on the Iraq war's impact on returning soldiers, 'The Messenger' gingerly probes wounds that are still healing with admirable empathy and insight ... Bottom line: A penetrating assessment of post-war readjustment."