The Messenger

Rated 4.0

Let’s talk about Ben Foster, since audiences and critics alike seldom do. He started in faceless teen comedies before scoring a few unmemorable co-starring roles in studio dreck like The Punisher and Big Trouble. In recent years, with his scarecrow body and gaunt, hound-dog face, he’s become a strange and intermittently compelling onscreen presence. There is a sniveling, quivering, sweating too-muchness to his performances, and as a supporting actor in studio productions, he often seems to be acting in his own film. His lead role as an emotionally scarred Iraq War veteran in Oren Moverman’s The Messenger could be considered the “ultimate Ben Foster role,” and I mostly mean that in a good way. A sensitive homefront drama that gets hung up on a silly love story, The Messenger also inspires Woody Harrelson’s best work in years as Foster’s superior.