In the Valley of Elah

In the Valley of Elah

In the Valley of Elah

Writer/director Paul Haggis – after a string of massive critical hits; Oscar winners Crash and Million Dollar Baby, Letters From Iwo Jima, Casino Royale – tackles that particularly curly topic, Iraq, in this mystery drama.

When model US soldier Mike Deerfield (Tucker) oddly goes AWOL shortly after returning home from the front lines in Iraq, his career officer father Hank (Tommy Lee Jones), enlists the aid of police detective Emily Sanders (Theron) in the search for his son. His wife Joan (Sarandon) also joins them to uncover the truth of his disappearance.

2008Rating: R16, Violence, Offensive Language & Content That May Disturb120 minsUSA
DramaMysteryThriller

In the Valley of Elah / Reviews

Flicks, Andreas Heinemann

Flicks, Andreas Heinemann

In the Valley of Elah sees acclaimed screenwriter Paul Haggis, the man responsible for penning Oscar winners Crash and Million Dollar Baby in consecutive years, undertake his most high profile and big budget directorial effort to date. His topic is the current conflict in the Middle East and how it has affected members of the American military who have served there, namely a father searching for his AWOL son. The film is concerned with the social issues of war that extend into the lives of those back home for whom the war is ostensibly being fought, rather than the more standard ‘war is hell’ depiction of the battle zone itself. This approach is the reason behind both the strengths and weaknesses of the film.

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Village Voice

Village Voice

The movie chickens out. In the Valley of Elah could have been really interesting -- and really daring -- if it had focused on Hank's realization that his own child, supposedly a good kid, had perhaps committed the kinds of atrocities that would make any decent human being recoil. The movie (which Haggis also wrote) dances around that territory, but doesn't dare to march straight into its terrifying maw...

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Variety

Variety

The Iraq war has proven as nettlesome to Hollywood moviemakers as it has to Washington policymakers, and "In the Valley of Elah" continues the trend. Working overtime to be an important statement on domestic dissatisfaction with the war and the special price paid by vets and their families, Paul Haggis' follow-up to "Crash" is too self-serious to work as a straight-ahead whodunit and too lacking in imagination to realize its art-film aspirations...

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The New York Times

The New York Times

However you judge the movie’s politics, and whatever its flaws, there is something inarguable, something irreducibly honest and right, about Mr. Jones’s performance...

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Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

Paul Haggis has not only avoided the dreaded sophomore slump, but the director and co-writer of the Oscar-winning "Crash" has returned with another bona-fide contender.

Ostensibly a murder-mystery set against the backdrop of the war in Iraq, "In the Valley of Elah" is a deeply reflective, quietly powerful work that is as timely as it is moving...

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New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

The film, whose leisurely pace is part of its appeal, is really all about things slowly coming into view. The truth of Jones' Hank seeps around the edges of his watchful, contained and profoundly sad performance.

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Newshub

Newshub

It is very sad and generally slow moving, especially for the first 30 minutes or so. Although the pace was a little frustrating to begin with, Jones' virtuoso performance and the expert cinematography kept me interested through to the film's conclusion - and when it came, I found it deeply moving and remarkably powerful.

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Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

The characters in this somber film have the glum look of individuals delivering a Very Important Message to the world. And though this film in fact does have something crucial to convey, this is not the way to go about it...

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