DIRECTOR David Blair WRITER Andrew Kirk STARS Robert Sheehan; Joely Richardson; Tamzin Merchant CINEMA 18 September
Its story coming from another Emmerdale alumnus (see the recent Bait, review here), The Messenger presents a number of ideas yet fails to commit to any of them. The result, more akin to a confused investigative TV drama than serious feature attempt, feels a missed opportunity for exploration of the relationship between mental illness and the supernatural — particularly so for an excellent performance from Robert Sheehan as the troubled young man at the centre.
In fact, if not for Sheehan, there would be little to recommend here. His character, Jack, is a drunk, a depressed character unable to escape his fate as a messenger: someone who can see and communicate with the dead. Sheehan brings an effective balance of disconnection and frustrated misery, and in fairness the film is visually strong in this sense: a grey palette complements his hopelessness to make Jack almost appear a part of his surroundings, so ostracised is he by the locals due to his “funny business” and assumed schizophrenia.
Sheehan aside, the film is also let down by unconvincing performances. Joely Richardson brings gravitas to her part as a psychiatrist but is underused, further highlighting the aforementioned missed opportunity to capitalise on psychological potential. As such The Messenger as a whole is a frustrating experience.