o77EV4cT The Messenger 2023 4
The Messenger 2023 4
Taxi driver Ed Kennedy

The Messenger: It’s all in the cards

Riley Riley

A desperate man, brandishing a gun, attempts to hold up a bottle shop, demanding the takings and keys to a car.

Concealed behind the shelving, four young friends can’t believe what they are seeing — can’t believe it’s happening.

One of them, a 19-year-old taxi driver named Ed, decides to intervene, foiling the robbery, but through luck more than anything else.

When the police show up he is still standing, pointing a gun at the man and looks ready to shoot him.

Despite warnings from police, he ignores orders from the police to put the gun down — it looks like he might be the one who shot.

As the man is led away, he is heard to whisper: ‘You’re a dead man, Ed Kennedy.’

Hang on a minute, who is this man and how does he know his name?

Watch and find out. Ed makes the news and is hailed as a small town hero for his impulsive bravery.

Soon afterwards, he receives an envelope containing a mysterious playing card, the Ace of Diamonds, with a time and address written on it in oddly familiar hand writing.

And so the scene is set for the ABC’s eight-part drama series The Messenger, based on the 2002 book of the same name by The Book Thief’s Markus Zusak.

Starring William McKenna as the heroic Ed, it’s one of those quaint, odd-ball productions that Australia seems to do so well — low key, minimal-budget and slow-paced.

Where’s this going? It’s not so much a case of sitting on the edge of your seat, wanting to see what happens next, but more of an interesting alternative to the predictable fare pumped out by Netflix et al.

We were interested but not hooked, interested enough to pick up where we left off the following night.

Young Ed clearly lacks direction and is mourning the recent loss of his father. 

Living in his father’s home, he eats, sleeps and works, and looks after his dead father’s dog, The Doorman.

Sadly everything in the home remains just the way his father left it.

The height of Ed’s social life is playing cards with friends once a week.

There’s: Ritchie (Kartanya MaynardDeadloch), unemployed and generally apathetic; Marv (Chris AlosioSurviving Summer), a stingy carpenter; and Audrey (Alexandra JensenTalk to Me), with whom Ed is in love. The thing is she already has a boyfriend.

Ed accuses the gang of leaving the card for hi, but they deny responsibility and so he sets out to investigate.

One card follows the next and Ed soon has three locations to be at certain times.

For those that have read the book, some characters and the order of events appear to have changed a little.

The first address Ed goes to is that of an old lady named Milla, who believes he is her long dead husband Jimmy, killed 60 years ago in the war (presumably World War II).

The second takes him to a unit where he witnesses a man Vin assault his wife while their daughter sits outside crying on the porch.

The third one takes him to the home of a teenager Sophie who aspires to be a runner and competes at athletic meets.

Ed is puzzled. What’s he supposed to do?

“What do you want from me?” he cries.

Just as he stepped in to prevent the robbery, Ed becomes involved in the lives of the three people.

He believes he has been given a mission (from God?) and that he is the messenger.

Ed plays along with the old lady, bringing some joy to her otherwise lonely life.

He dobs in the man for domestic violence and gives the runner an empty shoe box, encouraging her to run barefoot.

The messenger was produced by Lingo Pictures productions, with major investment from Screen Australia in association with the ABC.

Executive producers included Markus Zusak while ABC producers were Rebecca Anderson and Sally Riley.

It’s a quirky story, but one that is likely to appeal to older viewers who won’t mind the pace and have the time to spend getting to know the characters.

You might recognise McKenna who played ‘Scorpius Malfoy’ in the original Australian cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2018).

He’s also known for Breathe (2012) and Nowhere Boys (2013)

You can catch The Messenger on ABC iView (but remember their programs don’t hang around forever).


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