The Premise: Still sporting a bum eye from his last mission, decorated war hero Will Montgomery is paired up with Captain Tony Stone to serve the rest of his tour as a Casualty Notification Officer. The film follows his experiences notifying families of the deceased relatives, while exploring the relationship that forms between the two officers, as well as with those whose lives they must so abruptly enter.
Since director Oren Moverman was in the news today, I thought it would be a good choice.
Is It Good: It’s very often stunning. Filmed in such a way that Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson never knew what awaited them behind any given door, the performances are as raw as any you’ll see in a film. Foster is particularly strong as a troubled, but emotionally receptive person who can’t help but invest himself too much in the notifications. It is this that makes him a more human and comforting notifier, but makea every single job dangerous. At what point will he get drawn in too far?
Is It Worth A Look:
If you can handle it, or want to handle it. I’ve heard it referred to as “tearjerk porn” and while that’s an
unnecessarily dismissive categorization, it should at least warn you of
the kind of experience you’re in for when watching. This an entirely character and performance driven movie that keeps its focus on people at all times, and is filmed in such a way that puts you into these situations without a lot of clear, visual guidance through the scenes. This is fully intentional and creates a realistically uncomfortable, awkward, and emotionally tumultuous experience. As I noted in my festival review almost a year ago, there is a scene involving a known character actor that comes out of left field, and leaves you broken as it finishes. As difficult as the film is to watch though, it’s entirely worth it for the incredible, and criminally overlooked, work being done by each and every actor in this film.
Random Anecdote: When I first viewed this film I had close family serving in the active
fronts of Afghanistan, and I found it very difficult to handle. Watching
it now, after said Marine has returned safely, I find the film no less