Because life, especially in wartime, can be understatedly described as "messy," it's perhaps feasible to excuse The Messenger's disarray. The film's initial purpose is to explore the experience of servicemen tasked with notifying the next of kin when a soldier is killed. It's a rich and largely overlooked perspective, and it could, and should, have been the dedicated focus of the entire picture. Likewise, a romance between a widow and the soldier bearing news of her husband's death is also surely worthy of its own work, and an emotional soldier-to-soldier booze-fueled bender of a bro-down is much more than what some great films have been built on. But to cram all three into one film so laden with the ability to do just one really well, is to create a sense of unfinished business.
by Marjorie Skinner
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