I had not seen a trailer for this film, I had not read anything about the film, all I knew was that it featured Woody Harrelson and he had been nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and the Oscars. That enough got my interest to see it, being a big Woody fan and to see him getting awards attention seemed like this was worth a look. A worth a look it certainly is, I was pleasantly surprised to see this film also starred another personal favourite of mine Ben Foster. No matter what the man does, good film or bad film he is always fantastic and worth watching. I put this film and I was really just blown away by the performances and the story, it was not what I was expecting. Ben Foster plays Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery, he is recovering from injuries he sustained and he has a few months left in his enlistment. He gets a new assignment as a part of the Casualty Notification Team under the guidance of Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson). Will struggles with his new assignment and things get more complicated when he strikes up a relationship with a widow he had to notify about her husbands passing.
This film is actually difficult to watch at times, the scenes where Tony and Will go and inform families that their son/daughter ect have been killed while serving are very upsetting and moving and most importantly they all felt very real. Which is an amazing accomplishment from all the actors involved, as I said I was blown away by the performances. It really aims to show how everyone reacts differently to grief, and the way Tony and Will have to deliver the news and react with the people really takes its toll on Will. In a powerful scene from Woody, Tony explains how things work to Will and you can tell right away that Will is going to struggle with this. It really delves deep into how Will deals with everything, the dilema’s he faces. The relationship and bond that Will and Tony form changes both men, they both have their demons and they both do not deal with them and then deal with them. I honestly can’t imagine how it must feel to do that job and inform people about someones passing, and the way they portrayed it just felt very real. A fantastic small role played by Steve Buscemi, as the first person Will goes along to inform is extremely moving and it actually had me in tears. The small role he has Buscemi proved what a fantastic actor he is and his impact is felt throughout the entire film as well, it really sticks with you.
The script for this film is quite excellent and I definitely agree with the Oscar nomination it received. The dialogue I found to be very real and it flowed so naturally, especially coming from Woody, who seemed to have a deep understanding of the character and portrayed it in just the right way. The pacing and length of this film suited it just fine, this is a drama and it is important for it to keep your attention and this film certainly did. I actually couldn’t guess which direction it would go in, but it is obvious that Will was going to have some kind of relationship with the widow Olivia (Samantha Morton) he had to inform. There is a lot to this film, many themes are touched upon and I did feel it was a very moving film, upsetting film and a very real film. This is certainly something I would recommend, it is a great film and as mentioned many times in this review fantastic performances. Woody is the stand out, and it goes to show what a great actor he is when he can pull off a role like this and be equally as good and the stand out in a role like Zombieland.