After years working as a screenwriter culminating with his teaming with Todd Haynes on the script for his Dylan tribute I’m Not There, screenwriter Oren Moverman decided to tackle his first movie as a director. The Messenger is a movie about soldiers without necessarily being a war movie, following army officers Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) and Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), who have been assigned to the Casualty Notification service, traveling around their area to inform the loved ones of soldiers killed on the job.
It’s a different side of war we don’t often get a chance to see, making it quite a stirring bookend to Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. While there’s a lot of intense drama as the guys do their job, never knowing how the families they’re informing might react, it also spends a good amount of time with them as they bond, both men being quite tortured in their own way, Montgomery from a war incident that got him discharged from active duty, while Stone has many of his own issues.
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, Moverman’s debut won a number of awards at the Berlin and Deauville film festivals, and it’s coming into the fall movie season with a lot of critical backing for what Moverman was able to get out of his cast, especially the two leads. That may be why Moverman, Foster and Harrelson have been traveling throughout the country over the last few months showing the movie and talking to audiences about the subject matter of death and grieving when it comes to the current war.
Appropriately enough, ComingSoon.net sat down to interview Moverman on Veterans Day and some of the things we discussed in the following exclusive video interview include:
How the project came about
How hard it is to make a movie like this without being political
What he wanted to do different than some of the other “war” movies
The shooting style and using improvisation to create realism
His early meeting with Ben that convinced him he was right for the role
How the movie is so different from the other movies he’s written
What he’d like people to get out of the movie
What the future holds… and two sci-fi movies that aren’t happening
The Messenger opens in New York and Washington D.C. on Friday, November 13, and in L.A. on November 20.