In the Valley of Elah 2007 (2007) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son's disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq. Runtime: 121 mins Release Date: 28 Sep 2007
Surprisingly Poetic and Not Very Political. (by Movie-Jay)
This movie is just about perfect. I love how it starts as a genre movie and then transcends into something deeper and soul-searching. Some people just don't like Paul Haggis, but I'm not one of them. I think he's very smart here; he has no political point of view, he handles Charlize Theron perfectly, and the movie forces everybody to think about the troops in a way that isn't simply political rhetoric. I love that Tommy Lee Jones feels the way so many dads do. He's never been better. Watching the police work happen is interesting on it's own, but I like that Charlize <more>
Theron is just out to do the job correctly and just shrugs off the chauvinism coming at her from her department. The movie could've gone somewhere with that, but instead just quietly lets us in on it and moves on.There have been many very good movies the last few years about Iraq-related themes, but I don't think there is a film that captures the feeling of the national mood as good as this one. It's drained of melodrama and just sort of moves forward on really good performances of the whole cast, who all act according to their natures instead of because of stupid plot requirements.
Will Iraq's "Goliath" finally slay America's "David"??? (by screenwriter-14)
IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH you feel the anguish, the anger and the pain of what this dreadful war in Iraq has done to American families and our soldiers. ELAH is a powerful film from the brilliant Director Paul Haggis that drives home on the screen in a magnificent performance from Tommy Lee Jones the fear a father may have in the loss of his son and how this war is being played out in the small towns of America where a family wonders if a man, or woman, might return home safe, or in a body bag. Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon with a solid cast bring home the horror of Iraq in a film that is <more>
today's war in the Middle East. I can only hope that at Kudo time this well directed and written film will find itself on the list of nominated films. Bravo Paul Haggis for giving us another film to root for as we did with CRASH.
I had to drive all across town to the only movie theater that would show this movie and the documentary "No end in sight"; both I wanted to see. "In the Valley of Elah" the theater was about one third filled, the documentary only got about a dozen visitors. Nobody in both theaters was under 50. The younger moviegoers all went to see one or the other blockbusters playing in the same complex.Yeah, five years into the war with thousands of dead soldiers and many many more maimed and mentally disturbed for the rest of their lives, people still do not care. They want to be <more>
entertained with less disturbing movies.I do not know much about the military. But I had a father who was forced to participate in the first WW at the age of 18 and he was the most pacifist man I have ever met. I am sure, that what he experienced in this war formed him for life, though he never talked about it. I read books about that war and looked at the movie "Nothing new on the Western Front" to understand him better and what he had to endure at that tender age.Nobody really was much aware of post traumatic stress syndrome in those days, though there were plenty of men coming back, who could not cope with what they had done in the war, or what had been done to them.The department of war the name department of defense is a joke, all what they do is initiating one war after the other educates young soldiers to be killing machines and of course once back from the war, they cannot stop. Because once killing becomes a daily job, human life soon seems disposable and the lines in-between friend and foe become blurred... And you cannot blame the soldiers; we have to blame us, our society. We are not a civilized, nor are we a Christian society; we are as barbarian as our ancestors were who clubbed each other over the head. I saw the documentary after-wards and I looked in horror at the smiling faces of Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush when they joked about the quagmire, they created. What kind of humans are we that we allow these old rich men to kill and destroy these young soldiers for the sake of making Halliburton wealthy? What do people think? Who is going to pay the trillions this war costs? YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN. Why is there a whole country asleep at the wheel, instead of all running out and raising the upside down flag? It is about time to realize that things are really in distress in this country. Let us Get off our Ipods, cellphones and the Internet and let us take charge of our future. . I liked "Crash" very much and I was very impressed with this movie too. The acting was outstanding , the cast superb. I always appreciate if a director makes the actors and the location look realistic. I could relate to every second in the movie. I like movies with a message and if they are as well made and entertaining as this one, people should give it a try instead of watching some idiotic Halloween movie. In the Valley of Elah is much more scary!!
Why do most critics attack this film for being heavy-handed? (by bpreston41-1)
Only Roger Ebert and the reviewer for Rolling Stone seem to see the truth here: this film is slow and elegiac because it deals with heavy matters, but it is never boring, not if you understand the situation and the depth of feelings being explored. It's as if reviewers don't get it because they didn't really feel what the film is saying. Saying that there have been dozens of films about how war ruins men so it's a cliché, and that this one is too dreary and slow means that a person has stopped feeling for what is really hurtful, is even in denial. And that's the theme of <more>
this film: what happens when we lose touch with what's painful and don't care any more. The film is restrained but powerful, which is why it has such a strong effect. Jones is wonderfully grim, with a face like a road map, as he explores what happened to his son. Charlize Theron is beautiful even though she is playing a woman who is forced to act as non-sexy as possible to get on in her job in a male police force. Susan Sarandon is not, as some critic said, "underused"; she gives a performance that is all the more powerful because it is restrained. This movie should be a must see for all who believe that the Iraq war should continue until there is an honorable time for America to leave. That time is already passed.
There is a remarkable absence of polemic in this film which elevates it to something mythic...perhaps distills the subject matter to something we should face. No one should be able to fault the performances here, but I was most impressed with the director's careful avoidance of political point of view. It's the opposite of what, say, Costa-Garvas did with "Missing." There are no speeches or lectures, but watching illusions and faith in old systems being peeled away is very powerful. And very, very sad.We need this film whether we like it or not . Abu Ghraib happened. And <more>
not accepting the moral consequences leads us to a very troubling conclusion.Tommy Lee Jones is amazing here. Susan Sarandon, in a small part, makes a vivid presence. Charlize Theron seems miscast would a woman this beautiful and smart be in this job? , but she adds another fine character to her work.While there is a very interesting texture to the film, that is, cell phone movies are used to move the plot forward, and what we see is not quite clear so we want to find out more, just like the characters in the action, Haggis chose to withhold crucial information from the audience until the end of film. I'm not sure that strengthens the film's structure. We're left with a lot to process in the final moments, and had we known what the central character knew from the beginning, our journey with him might have had deeper resonance, his motives and internal conflicts clearer.I hope people see this. I know that this war has always divided our nation. But the men and women who fought or fight there need to have this story told. We've made our predicament unfairly theirs. It's a very unhappy thing and congratulations seem out of place. But the filmmakers and performers deserve admiration and our thanks.
I just saw this film and consider it to be one of the best anti-war films I've seen in quite a long time. And that makes me wonder at what the various critics are thinking. Roger Ebert gets it right, but some film critics are far too dismissive of a very serious, important film. James Berardinelli, in particular, seems curiously _angry_ that this film depicts the moral degradation of war in a frank and honest fashion.Berardinelli is basically wrong in every single thing he says about the film. Since this film is not a "politcal message" film, it has no requirement to "show <more>
both sides equally". It is a story about a group of soldiers basically driven beyond the area of traditionally human behavior. Berardinelli thinks that it's "obvious" that war changes the way people feel about their country.I sense a person utterly detached from history when I read that. A recent study concluded that the English were, as a group, fairly happy during WWII, even when their nation was under attack. Why was that? Because they believed in what they were doing. The notion that war _necessarily_ results in moral breakdown is, while hardly novel, also not true. That is part of what is important about "Elah". Jones' character is a veteran of the Vietnam war, and is hardly a delicate flower when it comes to the matters of war and its effect on the psyche. And yet even he is floored at what the Iraq war has done to the soldiers.It is easy for a film critic to simply reject what is essentially reporting on the state of the military today. That Berardinelli does so with such vitriol makes me guess that he is injecting his own bias into the review.
There have been many films about the aftermath of war, but never have I seen such a brutally honest and shocking depiction of the de-humanization of soldiers back from war. This is the underlying premise of the new crime thriller from academy award winning writer/director Paul Haggis Crash .Hank Deerfield played by Tommy Lee Jones is a retired veteran and military police officer searching for his son who has gone AWOL. A detective Emily Sanders played by Charlize Theron becomes interested in the case and starts helping Hank outside of her job. When Hank's son's body is found, the <more>
search suddenly turns into a search for the murderer.One of the many aspects I appreciated was that director Haggis did not turn this into a typical Hollywood crime thriller and also not turn it into a political propaganda piece against the war and President Bush. Instead he mixes the two plots together seamless and subtle, letting you decide for your self.Tommy Lee Jones gives the best performance of his long career as he plays a quiet, emotionless war vet, but still shows tremendous amount of emotion. Just watching his face as he sits in a diner and listens to one of his retired friends tell him about plans to go visit his grandchildren is heartbreaking. We can almost see the internal emotional struggle as he realizes he will never be able to do that. Charlize Theron does a wonderful job as the detective, and despite her small screen time Susan Surandon plays the grieving wife of Jones to perfection.This film is such a moving masterpiece on so many levels it is simply wonderful to watch. The quiet pacing of the film building up to the climax is captivatingly intense in its own way. I am sure this will be a popular film at the Oscars this year, and if they gave out awards for best scene this would be sure to garner a nomination for a simple, poignant, yet profoundly moving scene when Frank tells the story of David and Goliath which took place in the Valley of Elah to the little son of detective Sanders.
A less soapy, more plot-driven Haggis drama (by billybobwashere)
There are many people out there who hate the way Paul Haggis made his directorial debut, "Crash," an overly soapy and stupidly-tied-together drama at least, that's what it felt like to them . Those people don't have to worry. His second major directorial outing, "In the Valley of Elah," avoids both of the "mistakes" although I'd hardly call them that, seeing as he won Best Picture for what he did with "Crash" that he made last time around. Instead of mixing together multiple stories and having them all connect at the very end, this movie <more>
revolves around one main story, a story that seems a lot like the modern-day war version of "Chinatown." Instead of going for simple emotional tugs that he did with "Crash," this film focuses on its understated performances, namely from Tommy Lee Jones, who is superb in this film. It is truly courageous of Paul Haggis to be willing to make some serious changes to the style that won him a Best Picture Academy Award, and even more impressive that he pulls it off very well.The story revolves around an ex-military officer, Hank Deerfield, who is told that his son, a soldier returning home from Iraq, has gone missing. Jones plays the character in such a quiet way that makes you feel like he thinks he shouldn't be showing emotion, but has a lot of it bottled up inside of him. When he arrives at the military station, people don't seem to want to tell him what happened, and say that they expect he'll come to the base anytime soon this is portrayed especially well by James Franco, who you may know as Harry Osbourne from the "Spider-man" movies .Refusing to believe that it's as simple as that, Deerfield is relentless in getting information out of people as to what really happened. It's the way he functioned in the army, and it benefits him greatly as he has to get any information he can out of people. Enter Detective Emily Sanders played by a very strong Charlize Theron , who at first just wants to get through her job for the day, but soon gets wrapped up in also discovering what really happened to Deerfield's son. The two of them have great chemistry together, as their two different personalities give two different perspectives on what's happening.The movie works because although it does have quite a few negative things to say about the current war in Iraq, the entire film isn't a two-hour tirade against it. It only makes that message part of the story, and does it in subtle ways aka the soldiers don't just go "War...it...destroys...you..." but take a lot more time expressing their emotion . Much of the story works like a mixture between the great film "Chinatown" and a much better-acted, better-written version of a really good episode of "CSI." Although there may be a few too many twists and lies circling about, it comes to its conclusion very well in a satisfying way for the audience.Paul Haggis has an uncanny way of bringing out great performances from all of his actors. The performance of Tommy Lee Jones could be the best of his career, he brings out a much more emotionally quiet side in Charlize Theron than we've before seen, the short performance of Susan Sarandon is particularly powerful, and all of the soldiers are played with a feeling of sincerity. The acting is probably the strongest element of the film, and if there's any "weak part," it would have to be the way Haggis forced out some of the plot twists to make the film as long as he wanted it to be.Regardless of its few problems, "In the Valley of Elah" is both a very well-mannered look at the war in Iraq and its effects on the people involved, as well as a very interesting crime thriller. At the heart of it is Haggis's quietly powerful directing style and the cast's powerfully quiet performances. I don't see this picking up a Best Picture nomination as Haggis's past three Oscar hopeful screenplays "Letters from Iwo Jima," "Crash," and "Million Dollar Baby" , but I would not be surprised to see it pick up a few acting nominations as well as possibly a screenplay nod. If it does...it would have definitely earned it.
War as Parable - IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH (by seaview1)
'War is hell' but perhaps it is the postwar that is most telling. At least that is the thesis of Paul Haggis' latest film, In the Valley of Elah, a story of a father's quest for his son that reveals some bitter truths about war. Not an easy film to swallow upfront, it is certainly one of the best films of the year.A grizzled, former military policeman, Hank Deerfield Tommy Lee Jones , is notified that his son, Mike, is AWOL after returning from the fighting in Iraq. What begins as a methodical search for his son's whereabouts becomes more tragic and clashes with local <more>
police and military brass. Where is his son, and what do his soldier buddies know about one fateful night near their base? And what if anything did happen to him in Iraq? These questions are answered in small pieces and with alarming implications. Hank's skills at police work help convince local Detective Emily Sanders Charlize Theron to take charge of the case despite the doubts of her own colleagues and the military, led by investigator Lt. Kirklander Jason Patric . Mike's PDA has garbled video that begins to paint a disturbing picture of the war front. Hank's search takes an emotional toll on himself and his wife Susan Sarandon . He and Emily form an uneasy alliance, and, amid theories and suspects, what emerges is an ominous portrait of war veterans on the homefront. Ultimately Hank comes face to face with a disarming truth about his son's fate and the possible involvement of his military brethren.The story is based on actual events in 2001 in Tennessee, and its title references the mythic tale of David and Goliath set at a time when the rules of engagement were different than the present. Its sparse, simplistic structure of a mystery peppered with flashback video and imagery may seem on surface like an independent film, but its message and execution is on a grander scale and not merely with dialogue. With effective visuals, much is conveyed by silence, expression, or simple body language.As with other Haggis films, things that seem ordinary and insignificant at the beginning have implications later on. Though not as overtly obvious with connecting a myriad of dots as in his Oscar winner Crash, the threads are all there to gradually weave together. It is refreshing that the jurisdictional conflict between local police and the military does not take a stereotypic turn of heavy handed conspiracy and cover-up even though the military investigators are not cast in the best light. It shares a similar feel with the recent Courage Under Fire where the truth is unearthed in small bits until a bigger picture emerges. A couple of minor plot points go nowhere such as Hank meeting an old comrade who may have connections with military intelligence.As grandiose and flamboyant as was his Oscarwinning turn in The Fugitive, Tommy Lee Jones' acting here is equally underplayed; he is magnificent. Through the pain and guilt that creep over his lined features, you also feel his suffering, his loss, and understand his bitterness. His Hank is a proud man, a patriot, who wants the truth. The truth ultimately changes him forever. Equally up to the challenge is Theron, in a strong performance, whose detective is a single mother who must battle her own squad and superiors while trying to solve a mystery. Even Sarandon's brief moments are affecting as the long distance wife. The rest of the cast is very good; they become real people.This is not simply the readjustment to the homefront done magnificently in The Best Years of Our Lives or the heavy use of dramatic love triangle to condemn the Vietnam War in Coming Home. Rather, it takes the concept of a given war and allows it to become the ultimate villain in an increasingly sordid mystery. Its ending calls to mind The Deer Hunter but with a more pessimistic bent. It most certainly vilifies the effects of war on its men.It is significant that a passing quote, "We all do stupid things," says something about not just the horror of warfare, but what such conflict does to its soldiers, and how they become soulless monsters capable of the most brutal of crimes. This is a brave, imperfect film that sets a somber tone and never lets up. The final image is a statement that makes this perhaps the subtlest of antiwar films ever. Oscar nominations can start here with picture, direction, screenplay, and the duo of Jones and Theron. While not everyone will be willing to let the story unfold with its nuanced direction and understated acting, those who are patient will find a moving tale of innocence lost and corrupted.