I am no fan of Woody Harrelson as an actor, so it is only begrudgingly that I’ll say that he did a good job with this role. Ben Foster though, is the real star here. Along with Samantha Morton who, in a bold move, is cast as a somewhat dumpy war widow that Fosters character falls for.
I’m not, however, as thrilled with the movie in general as much of the critical community. Behind this movie, there may be a noble design, but it fails to engage coherently with anything like a powerful message. At it’s core, it’s a buddy flick.
SSgt Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) is an injured veteran of the late Iraqi war operations, who has but three months of active duty left. He’s assigned to a casualty notification team, headed by Capt. Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson). Stone is a veteran of the earlier conflict, and truth be told, did not see much action. These two men are both damaged in their own ways . Stone does it by the books, and Montgomery does it all wrong. They are supposed to teach each other something, but…well, what that is doesn’t ever particularly reveal itself.
Samantha Morton (as Olivia Pitterson) is an interesting and unusual casting. She’s not glamorous. She’s plump and a bit mousey – not your classic female love interest. I like it. Scanning the list of Morton’s previous roles (those that I’ve seen at any rate), there’s Synecdoche, New York and Minority Report, but I don’t remember her at all. I’ll remember this one.