In The Valley Of Elah (2007)

PAUL HAGGIS

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5.  USA, 2007.  Warner Independent Pictures, NALA Films, Summit Entertainment, Samuels Media, Blackfriars Bridge Films.  Story by , Paul Haggis, Screenplay by Paul Haggis.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Paul Haggis, , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2007.  Toronto International Film Festival 2007.  

Ex-army sergeant Tommy Lee Jones gets a phone call informing him that his son, just returned from service in Iraq, has disappeared from his army base and has been missing for days. Jones, immediately knowing something is wrong, travels two days across states to investigate his son’s disappearance himself, devastated when he arrives and learns from a local police officer (Charlize Theron) that his son’s mutilated remains have been found in a sparse country field. From there the journey becomes about solving a murder, not an easy task given his personal involvement in the matter. A fascinating story and fine performances (especially Jones, who suffers nobly with incredible flair) make for an interesting, deeply felt film that keeps you interested–with Paul Haggis at the helm, however, it includes a bit too much of his preachy flavour (guess what: war is hell, who knew?!) to really hit classic status, particularly in the last third where the message is painfully overstated. Susan Sarandon is underused as Jones’s wife, while Theron plays burned out with exceptional intensity.

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