Statistically, the British Film Industry appears to be in rude health. Over 150 films were made in the last year and the amount of investment continues to rise. In reality, this often means little in terms of quality of output or scale of theatrical release. As this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival attested, it’s often a case of quantity over quality. Whilst The Messenger isn’t entirely successful it at least feels original, and is much more of a rounded film than most of its peers.
Jack (Robert Sheehan) is a messenger. The dead visit him with a plea to contact their love ones shortly after their demise. Unfortunately for him, it’s more of a curse than a gift, as they’re quite persistent. Understandably, this doesn’t go down very well with their relatives. When his big sister (Lily Cole) moves back to the area the past comes back to haunt him. At the same time, the death of a war reporter (Jack Fox) puts him on the radar of the local authorities.
The Messenger deals with psychological and family trauma through Jack’s ‘gift’. David Blair has taken a well-worn subject and has found an innovative way to approach it. He employs flashbacks immersed in Jack’s current ‘reality’ and uses a narrative device through conversations with a psychiatrist (Joely Richardson). Robert Sheehan is a force of nature; a dervish of anger and self-recrimination. Whilst The Messenger sometimes spirals out of control and isn’t helped by a slightly limited script, it’s kept grounded by Lily Cole’s understated performance.
The Messenger is out in cinemas on Friday.