Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2009. Oscilloscope, Omnilab Media, Sherazade Film Development, BZ Entertainment, The Mark Gordon Company, Good Worldwide. Screenplay by Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman. Cinematography by Bobby Bukowski. Produced by Mark Gordon, Lawrence Inglee, Zach Miller. Music by Nathan Larson. Production Design by Stephen Beatrice. Costume Design by Catherine George. Film Editing by Alex Hall. Academy Awards 2009. American Film Institute 2009. Golden Globe Awards 2009. Gotham Awards 2009. Independent Spirit Awards 2009. National Board of Review Awards 2009. Washington Film Critics Awards 2009.
Ben Foster returns from Iraq with a severe injury to his eye. After being welcomed home by his ex-girlfriend (Jena Malone) who is now engaged to someone else, Foster is assigned to join Gulf War veteran Woody Harrelson on a pretty hairy assignment: notifying soldiers’ Next Of Kin when they are killed in battle. The assignment brings the two of them to the home of a woman (Samantha Morton) who captures Foster’s sympathy and the two of them develop a relationship. He also gets to know Harrelson better and the two of them express the residual madness that has spilled over since their time overseas. This film by Oren Moverman has it all: humour and pathos, dramatic intensity and mild poignancy, and it is all balanced to perfection thanks to a very strong script and intelligent direction. Foster is outstanding, while Harrelson steals every shot he’s in with his perfect combination of war-scarred madness and charismatic humour. The only sore point is Morton, who despite being an amazing talent, doesn’t quite pull off suburban trash and sticks out more than she should; it’s more of an excellent imitation of a character than an embodiment of one. It’s a small complaint, however, as the rest of the picture is so incredibly fine.