113 minutes| U.S.A.| 2009| Colour| Anamorphic| Dolby Digital Stereo| D-Cinema

This compassionate and affecting drama shifts attention from the ‘War on Terror’ to the home front, where the U.S. Army’s Casualty Notification Service faces the task of notifying next of kin of the loss of their loved ones. It’s subject matter which provides unexpected insight into the ongoing conflict’s collateral emotional damage, and director Oren Moverman’s debut feature makes clear the toll it takes on those who bring the message as well as those unfortunate enough to receive it. Ben Foster (newly returned from Iraq, still wound up tight) and Woody Harrelson (larger-than-life, evidently pent-up underneath) deliver exemplary performances as soldiers whose unenviable mission throws up all sorts of questions about courage and masculinity. Bolstered by a truly delicate supporting turn from Samantha Morton as a young widow, this is that rare Hollywood item with a documentary-inspired sense of integrity and veracity, wary of pushing too far into melodrama, always focused on its characters’ troubled yet worthwhile confrontation with the harshest of truths.(Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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