I watched "The Messenger" and was a little under-whelmed. I had listened to interviews with the screen-writers over at the Creative Screenwriters Magazine podcast and was intrigued by the thoughtfulness of the writers and the ripeness of the premise. I have always liked Ben Foster, and Samantha Morton and felt that if Woody Harrelson received a nomination for his performance that this movie was sure to please.
What I found was that despite the performances, which were all good, the actors playing the Next Of Kin continually pulled me out of the story. I felt that their displays of grief bordered on the histrionic. I find that usually it is more powerful when the character on screen feels the grief, and then does not cry, or wail, or vomit. It allows me to feel their courage and their conflict much more accutely. Not to say that their reactions are not authentic, but just that they don't show me anything beyond the ordinary and so maybe those reactions don't belong in a film.
I was also puzzled by the storyline between Samantha Morton and Ben Foster. Perhaps it was a lack of chemistry between them, but I didn't feel why Ben was so drawn to this widow. They had lovely moments together, like the first time he comes in to her house (awkward! How many times have I been there?), but they never really got my heart pounding.
What did get my heart pounding was the last scene of the film. It was very moving to have that story told so simply, and then watch the ice melt around Woody Harrelson's heart. It definitely left me feeling like a worthwhile story had been told.
At the end of the day, it was likely my own critical mind that left me under-whelmed, because "The Messenger" had some great moments. I look forward to hearing what other peoples experience with the film was.