(Finally saw this after putting it off for three months.)
I hope my opinion on this movie doesn’t stem out of a bias towards kids’ pictures, and that if by chance I hated this movie I would have been like those people who hate children and have no souls. At the same time this might not be considered a kids movie because Wes Anderson’s voice seeps it movie so much. At the same time adult themes seep into other media targeted for children (Flintstones), and as my old-enough-to-be-parents friends can attest, sarcastic language and tones have been prevalent in children’s media in the past decade.
The first moments of the film did delightedly overwhelmed with cuteness, but nonetheless, the Wes Anderson influence within the narrative was distracting in the first half (I have yet to read the book, and apparently it’s better for someone who writes about film to read the source material). I wanted something universal, and I wanted to see if he could make a film that has different themes from what he’s used to. I couldn’t see both aspects of kids movie and Wes Anderson movie together.
What probably convinced me to were the performances. This movie probably has George Clooney’s best performance of the year. He’s familiar with the heist-y, witty, fragmented masculinity and he’s familiar with these spins on the genre (Soderbergh). Behind the animation is someone perfectly conjuring a character with explosive excitability.
And his leading lady comes to task. I can’t believe I’m admitting this to the internet, but Meryl Streep almost made me cry in that movie. Her character and performance is more motherly and isn’t as fierce and combative as the other female characters in Wes Anderson’s movies (Anjelica Huston comes to mind). She even comes off as motherly in the first scene when she and Clooney portray a younger couple. But she does scratch his face, and it’s hinted that her character has a mysterious past.
Michael Gambon is also enjoyable as always, and Willem Dafoe disappears into his Rat character. And if you’re wondering why animals in n English countryside are speaking with American and Southern accents, I let it go.
What also caught my eye was how textural and sculptural the film is. The hair and the fur on the foxes’ faces, the detail of every set created and the gorgeous scene in the sewer waterfall added to this movie.
(First week at the Cumberland.)
I’ve been reading some of the reviews of this movie in papers and in iMDb, and I saw in the latter that some anonymous person conclude that “The Messenger” is not a war movie (Faux pas alert, especially for a n00b like me: I shouldn’t be reading other people’s reviews because it’s gonna bleed into mine. Also, I shouldn’t be reading fucking iMDb. Not dissing the creators). It IS a war movie. As the actual soldiers die, the next of kin continues the battle for them. They carry the soldier’s pain and translate them emotionally. They often exhibit rage. Some accept the casualties of war, hide their wounds, and move on.
Woody Harrelson’s character Capt. Tony Stone (subtle) is an example of the latter, instructing his protege Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) (will as in future? Why am I writing this review like I’m still in college?) to shoot the message and the sometimes, the next of kin might shoot you. He’s baffled why the next of kin can’t get the concept that soldiers die in war and even introduces the idea to televise military funerals so that people will get used to it. And Stone unknowingly encounters a mirror image in Samantha Morton’s character Olivia (don’t know what her name means, ok), who reacts to her husband’s death by telling the messengers how hard it is for them and shaking their hands. She’s a dutiful, stoic soldier’s wife with unwritten regulations thrusted upon her, perfect and therefore suspicious.
Another battle begins to exist between Stone and Montgomery, the latter finding his own way to deliver a script nobody wants to say. At one point Montgomery tells the next of kin about their son’s death in the most awkward places to do so and turns it into a powerful moment, only for Stone to abscond him.
We see characters with different ways of coping with grief and war. Like your independent drama, it pulls on the strings without insisting on orchestrated high notes. Also in the film are three rewarding cameos.