Following the death of Mark (a high-profile war correspondent) outside the apartment that he shared with his girlfriend, Sarah, Jack finds his self-imposed isolation violated by the journalist’s confused spirit. Explaining that he simply wants Jack to help him say goodbye to Sarah, Mark not so much haunts as stalks Jack until he gets his way. The result of which does not go smoothly.
While we see inside Jack’s tormented world, we also see it from the outside, presenting us with an all-too-familiar sight of a dishevelled and erratic man who talks and shouts to himself with little regard for his surroundings. The consequences of this behaviour are evident throughout as he’s (literally) kicked out of pubs, chased down the street and ridiculed. Yet Jack is no Derek Acorah, he has no ulterior motive for passing on the messages of the dead; in fact, he’d rather they left him alone completely. Driven almost to the point of madness, the only solace Jack has is in the arms of his sister, Emma (Cole) and her troubled son who seems to share Jack’s unwanted gift.
There is a lot of heart and soul in this film. While comparisons can easily be brought with the likes of The Sixth Sense, there is very little attempt to glorify the thriller aspects of the story (which are there for the taking but are instead left largely unanswered). Instead, the focus is squarely on Jack and his battle both internal (fleshed out through intermittent flashbacks to a life-changing event as a child) and by default external as self-harm begins to seep into the picture.
Without a doubt, Sheehan is the standout star of this beautifully crafted film. His portrayal of someone who is both outwardly suffering from mental illness and inwardly struggling to help those grieving is outstanding. Coupled with Blair’s stark yet beguiling direction and Ian Livingstone’s haunting score, The Messenger is a unique film that, while not necessarily playing well to the masses, is a thought-provoking and unforgettable experience.CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DAVID BLAIR / SCREENPLAY: ANDREW KIRK / STARRING: ROBERT SHEEHAN, TAMZIN MERCHANT, LILY COLE, JACK FOX, ALEX WYNDHAM, DAVID O'HARA, JOELY RICHARDSON / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 18TH
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10