The Messenger Oren Moverman

The Messenger Oren Moverman
Typically, DVD supplements exist merely as flippant selling features, edited together from studio-approved interview segments where everyone insincerely compliments each other and the greatness of the film. A couple of observations are made about colour palette or costuming and then they're over. Rarely do they add as much to an already stirring and powerful film as they do to The Messenger. Because this is a movie about two members of the Army's Casualty Notification service, a short documentary is included featuring interviews with both military personnel and families that have received the news where they describe their experiences. While a moving piece on its own, it actually adds to the authenticity and care taken within the film to depict these exchanges with the pain, awkwardness and peculiarity of their reality. This isn't like the stoic HBO movie Taking Chance with Kevin Bacon, where everything is handled with the weight of the world on its shoulders. It is more nuanced, capturing the power and heartache of a person receiving horrifying news, along with the anger, numbness, confusion and even the humour in social etiquette gone awry. Woody Harrelson received a much-deserved Oscar nod for his portrayal of the rigid, combative Tony Stone, but Ben Foster, playing his battle-scarred partner in notification, delivers an equally intense and complex performance. Watching these two deal with each other and the weight of driving around ruining people's lives as a vocation never feels dodgy or contrived. They are these characters and Moverman's strong, fluid script gives them multitudes to work with. The "Going Home" supplement and commentary track on the DVD discuss the preparation and commitment involved, along with some of the subtler aspects of the film, such as the use of empty space in widescreen and the gradual changes in colour and costume throughout the film as the characters grow and evolve. In the end, this movie about death is ultimately about life, or choosing to live and open up in the face of quotidian horror. It's unsentimental and unforgiving, but it's also the sort of film that reaffirms worldly priorities. (Alliance)