Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Movie: The Messenger

The Messenger is a grim and serious drama about two people in the Casualty Notification Office of the military, bringing the news that their loved ones have died in combat.  Ben Foster plays Will Montgomery, a staff sergeant who has been injured in combat in Iraq.  After his recovery, he is assigned to Casualty Notification, much to his dismay.  He is to be paired up with Captain Stone, played by Woody Harrelson.    Captain Stone has the tough guy image, but later on we find out he has a past drinking problem.  The partnership is uneasy at first, but they soon bond to form an unlikely friendship.


The movie is well-scripted and the scenes where the officers break out the cold hard news are emotionally very powerful.  It takes character and stature to be able to do a job like this, and I can only imagine what goes through the minds of real Casualty Notification Officers.   The golden rule is to just do your job and not show and sympathy or compassion towards the family members.  However, Will starts to be drawn closer to Olivia (Samantha Morton), wife of a deceased soldier he had to inform of.  Hints of romance start to bud, which will change the dynamics between the officers and raise questions on how things are/should be done.  Wonderful performances by Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson, and good one by Samantha Morton as well.


「天堂信差」是由Ben Foster和Woody Harrelson(伍迪哈里遜)主演的劇情片,描述兩位軍官負責將士兵戰死的死訊親自傳遞給家屬的職物。Ben Foster飾演的Will,在伊拉克的某場戰役裡受了傷,送回美國康復後,被派到新的這個單位。而Woody Harrelson飾演Tony,是Will擔任這個職物多年的長官,非常熟練,是臉上絲毫不會露出任何表情的硬漢子。但是,他背後也有酗酒的歷史,也正在走出當中。兩人的關係剛開始是緊張,不自然的,但隨著時間的過去,二人卻也建立起了一種特殊的兄弟情誼。

電影中有拍攝出許多將死訊傳達給家屬後他們的反應。有的是號啕大哭,有的是暗自泣,有的是轉悲傷為憤怒,開始大罵二軍官。不論是哪種情形,都是悲傷很沉重地,但極具張力的演出。奉命做這份工作的,需要有堅強的人格,以及高超的精神特質。為了避免惹事,一個重要的原則是要專業,不能對家屬表露出任何同情或憫。但一次執行職物,讓他和剛失去丈夫的Olivia越走越近,兩人更是產生出感情。這無疑再度造成Will和長官Tony間的衝突,也讓他省思,這種鐵著面辦事的方法,究意是好是壞。

Woody Harrelson是個多才多藝的演員。早期Cheers笑聲劇裡的那個搞笑角色之後,Woody一向接了許多有挑戰且個性複雜的角色,最令人印象深刻的莫過於「閃靈殺手」(Natural Born Killers)以及「情色風暴1997」(The People vs Larry Flynt)。Ben Foster的名氣雖小,但他在「決戰3:10」裡的壞蛋配角,也是詮釋得很好。兩人的表現,將這嚴肅的故事,發揮得更是有力,如喜歡看認真的劇情片,那可不能錯過此片。

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