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3 YEARS

First Look 'Rampart,' Drama Reuniting Talent Behind 'The Messenger' (Exclusive)

UPDATE: Film, which is still seeking domestic distribution, reteams writer-director Oren Moverman and stars Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster.

Tonight, Rampart, one of the hottest titles at the Toronto International Film Festival that hasn't yet been acquired by a domestic distrubtor, will have its world premiere at 10pm. This afternoon, I'm pleased to exclusively bring you the first footage of the film -- three separate scenes from the film within one video clip -- that you will find anywhere.

The project marks a reunion between Israeli writer/director Oren Moverman and American actor Woody Harrelson, both of whom scored Oscar nominations for their last collaboration, The Messenger (2009), a film that chronicled the haunted lives of military officers who had been tasked with informing civilians in the U.S. that their loved ones have been killed-in-action overseas. Ben Foster, who also starred in that film, has a small part in this one, as well. Moverman, Harrelson, and Foster each told me back then that they were profoundly impacted by interactions that they had with military veterans while preparing for that film, which is why I'm not at all surprised that the project on which they decided to re-team also deals, at least tangentially, with the trials and travails of those who have served overseas.

Moverman and the legendary writer James Ellroy adapted the script that had been inspired by real events that took place in the 1990s. It's central protagonist is Officer Dave Brown (Harrelson), a Vietnam vet and a Rampart Precinct cop who operates by his own rules within the Los Angeles Police Department. A bit of an eccentric character to begin with -- he has fathered children with two sisters (Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon), each of whom he intermittently lives with -- he also marches to his own beat and plays by his own rules on the job... that is, until he is caught on tape beating a suspect and is subsequently scapegoated by his own Rampart division when it falls under a corruption investigation. Haunted by his past actions and the implications that they have had on both others and himself, he begins to mentally unravel.

In the first scene that we're now able to share, Brown attempts to rationalize his behavior to a psychologist (Sigourney Weaver). In the second scene, he interacts, in his characteristically gruff way, with a fellow vet who is now homeless and mentally disturbed (Foster). And in the third scene, he flirts -- as only Harrelson can -- with a woman whom he has met at a bar (Robin Wright Penn). Ned Beatty, Steve Buscemi, and Ice Cube also star in the film, but do not appear in any of these particular scenes.