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LAist at Sundance: Day 5

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Ah, to be young and in love and stuck in a dead-end carnie job. | Photo courtesy of Miramax

Similarly to last year (and probably owing to the largely liberal bent of the festival's programmers), there were a significant amount of films about the Iraq War at Sundance this year. Perhaps the most despairing (both in content and execution) was first-time director Oren Moverman's The Messenger. The film stars Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson as a pair of psychologically damaged Army soldiers who are tasked with the grim responsibility of informing families that their son or daughter has been killed in action.

Foster is the new one of the duo. He's just returned from being in theater in Iraq (where his eye and leg were badly injured by an IED) and has only three months left until his enlistment expires. The film opens with him reuniting with his ex-girlfriend Kelly (Jena Malone) for a final, graphic interlude of passionate sex. She left him for another man when he went off to fight in the war, and their relationship is clearly irreparably broken. The next day, Foster reports to the base and learns that he's been given his new assignment with Harrelson.