Summary written by Omar P.L. Moore
"In The Valley Of Elah" is a remarkable triumph for Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis ("Crash") who with this film is actually more subtle in his approach, even if a couple of visual cues are used like a sledgehammer. Yet the film takes a sensible and restrained look at a soldier's journey home to family and weaves it around a murder investigation headed by Jason Patric (great here as an officer who delicately obstructs the proceedings) but ultimately taken over by Charlize Theron's character, police detective Emily Sanders, a no-nonsense, rigorous investigator who tries to help Hank Deerfield, a former U.S. colonel (Tommy Lee Jones most likely-nomination bound here) get to the truth about his son in Iraq. There are moments of silence and contemplation, of space, of recollection -- all of which are shot so well by Roger Deakins (who had an excellent year in his own right as a cinematographer -- with beautifully shot films like "No Country for Old Men" and "The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford", among others.) The film is at times moving, to the point where it feels as if it will collapse into itself like a balled-up handkerchief and envelope you in its own gravity. This is not a flippant observation, merely a testament to the sincerity of Mr. Haggis and his performers to such a sensitive and little-discussed topic as the effects of war on its fighters. Susan Sarandon is remarkable here, in an ensemble of performers that also includes actor-of-the moment Josh Brolin.
Significant line of the film: " ... [M]y son has spent the last 18 months bringing democracy to a shithole and serving his country. He deserves better than this." (Spoken by Hank Deerfield to Emily Sanders)
Film length: Two hours and four minutes
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Valley Of Elah"