In the Valley of Elah: Film # 125 of Film 365

Monday 16th January 2012

Director: Paul Haggis
Year: 2007
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon, James Franco, Josh Brolin

In direct contrast to Talladega Nights, this movie isn't silly at all - or funny. It is still very good though, even if its aim is to be a worthy movie.

Hank Deerfield's (Lee Jones) son works for the army, and is reported as having gone AWOL. In an attempt to find out what has happened, Hank goes looking for some answers. This slowly leads to some awful realisations about the American army, and the way Hank has previously viewed the world.

Although the story is supposedly about his son, the central character here is really Hank. It's an interesting, insightful character study of how one person's views can change so dramatically. This is a character who goes from being a staunch patriot to realising America isn't quite the idealistic place he once knew. This is portrayed especially well using some scenes that, when we first see them, feel (albeit reasonably in context) quite random, and as if they are just setting the scene. Watch out especially for the scenes with the US flag, and those with the lady talking about the dog in the police station.

I felt as if this movie had a point to make when I started watching it, and by the time the film had ended this was very definitely confirmed. Whether or not you agree with the point, it is very effectively made, and a very interesting movie to watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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I live in Bristol with my husband Dan (who I married in July 2007), my son Joe (born 2012) and daughter Jess (born 2015). I work at UWE (the University of the West of England) in Bristol as a Research and Open Access Librarian. I'm orginally from Exeter, so moving back to Bristol is a bit like coming home - especially as I studied for my undergraduate degree here (also at UWE). I love travelling and movies, although I get to do a lot less of both since the birth of our children. Although we have still managed to fit in holidays to the Isles of Scilly, Chamonix and a summer in California since Joe was born.