2000s

Published on June 17th, 2008 | by Chris

0

In The Valley of Elah (2007)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On June 17, 2008
Last modified:October 6, 2012

Summary:

take all the proposed rhetoric about Iraq out of The Valley of Elah, and its a really solid piece. But to put it all in there is just confusing and at best a plot device that we just didn't need. The entire stream of 'decoded' cell phone videos just serve to muddle the picture

In The Valley of Elah (2007)As we learn in the film, in the Biblical parlance, the Valley of Elah is where the infamous battle between David and Goliath took place. I'm not exactly sure what the relevance of that to the movie, In The Valley of Elah is, except maybe in reference to the main character, Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones)

But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here. Elah follows Deerfield as he searches for his son, Mike Deerfield, who has gone AWOL after returning from a tour in Iraq. The search turns into a murder mystery, as we discover his horribly mutilated remains in a field. Helping with the investigation is the mediocre rural detective Emily Sanders (Charlize Theron.)

War Movie? No. Classify this under murder/detective mystery more than anything. However, I think that the folks who made the movie intended for this to be some kind of statement. *That* little effort, in my not so humble opinion, falls flat on its face. Seen purely in that light, it goes from one extreme to the other and then back again. From 'honor our troops!' to 'the US is wrong' to 'war is hell' to 'our soldiers are animals' and then falls somewhere in the "unfavorable" light as we end the film with Deerfield hanging the flag his son sent him upside down as a signal of distress. Whether that's supposed to be Deerfield's or all of us collectively I'm not sure.

It's also unclear to me how the now deceased Deerfield's unfortunate events ultimately play into his death, and the plot in general. Not to spoil it, but he accidentally does something that he can't live with, and it just doesn't line up with the manner or circumstances of his death. Is the moral of the story "shit happens?" I really don't know.

Anyway. If you take all of that aside, go ahead, toss it out the window... You really end up with a good movie. A good detective story anyway. And as far as detective stories go it is pretty predictable.

The final thing which makes Elah what it is is Tommy Lee Jones' performance, and how we witness his character go from straight-laced, (and still "living the life" so-to-speak) into a dark world of chaos. He starts off parking his polished shoes by his neatly tucked-and-folded bed, to a sloppy, sleeping til noon mess as he unravels the mystery of what happened to his son. Really, that's whats at the core of the story. I'll throw in a big nod to Susan Sarandon playing the would-be-stoic army wife and mother. Her brief yet powerful performance is equally moving as Jones'. But, if Theron's goal was to play a not-so-bright but dedicated cop with no personality, then I think she nailed it dead on.

So, take all the proposed rhetoric about Iraq out of The Valley of Elah, and its a really solid piece. But to put it all in there is just confusing and at best a plot device that we just didn't need. The entire stream of 'decoded' cell phone videos just serve to muddle the picture, providing few clues really except to finally show that Mike's buddies were a bunch of sadistic animals. I just don't get the motive there.

In the Valley of Elah In the Valley of Elah
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Description

In career Army officer Hank Deerfield's worldview, the American military exists to bring order to the world, and honor and dignity to every one of its soldiers. As played by Tommy Lee Jones, in a layered performance that will haunt the viewer long after the film is over, Deerfield wears the Army life like he does his standard-issue white T-shirts--unconsciously making a cheap motel bed with crisp inspection-ready corners...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: Warner Home Video
Manufacturer: WarnerBrothers
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Josh Brolin
  • Barry Corbin
  • Wayne Duvall
  • Frances Fisher
  • Tommy Lee Jones

Features

  • Condition: New
  • Format: DVD
  • AC-3; Closed-captioned; Color; Dolby; Dubbed; DVD; Subtitled; Widescreen; NTSC

Reviews

Customer reviews
Average Customer Review

1.0 out of 5 stars DVD was partially recorded......., December 18, 2017
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: In the Valley of Elah (DVD)
Movie arrived as promised in a sealed container. The DVD was not seated in the case and was loose. I checked it to see if it was scratched and was not. Got to the middle of the Movie (Scene 13), and the DVD froze. Nothing would work. So, a movie that was getting into the good stuff, dies. Now, the movie itself; well I made another purchase of it from another vendor. Got to see the end. Oh, My DVD player is a month old so it is not the problem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tommy Lee Jones has never been better and is perfect for this role, September 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Tommy Lee Jones has never been better and is perfect for this role. A far better film that Haggis' Crash, which was contrived to the point of clockwork, while Valley is so realistic: so many blind alleys, confrontations and encounters that go nowhere, as in life; but the father and eventually the sympathetic cop, Charlize Theron, almost as good as Jones, which is saying something, hang in there for the sake of a murdered soldier. Definitely anti-war and deeply humane, this is the one Haggis should have received an Oscar for, two actually: a fine script masterfully directed with an ensemble cast that has no weak links.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sad but good movie, March 23, 2017
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Good movie. Can keep your interest. Just a little downer at the end. It could have a better ending but still a good one. Sad though.
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In The Valley of Elah (2007) Chris

Summary: take all the proposed rhetoric about Iraq out of The Valley of Elah, and its a really solid piece. But to put it all in there is just confusing and at best a plot device that we just didn't need. The entire stream of 'decoded' cell phone videos just serve to muddle the picture

2.5


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



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