Monday, March 10, 2008

In The Valley Of Elah

In The Valley of Elah is Paul Haggis' follow-up as a director after his Oscar winning film Crash. He has kept busy in between writing, producing and directing The Black Donnelly's, a great drama about four Irish brothers and their involvement in organised crime in New York, which was unfortunately cancelled as it was highly watchable.

His latest movie features a strong cast led magnificently by Tommy Lee Jones as a retired army officer who turns detective after his son goes AWOL after returning back to the US from Iraq and his body is shortly found charred and dismembered causing Jones to attempt to uncover the reasons behind it.

He finds help in Charlize Theron who is an oppressed female detective in a chauvinistic department trying to do the best she can despite the misgivings of her colleagues and with added pressure of raising a child as a single mother.

The film focuses on the inability and unwillingness of the police and army police in trying to catch the person or people responsible and also how the death of their second and last son leaves a huge impact on Jones and his wife, played briefly but wonderfully by Susan Sarandon.

In The Valley of Elah weaves a simple story into a fascinating social drama with a conspiracy twist which keeps up the suspense until the credits roll. The acting from Jones can be considered one of his best performances and he isn't let down by the compelling supporting acting of Theron and the rest of the ensemble cast.

Despite the 2 hour runtime of the film, I didn't catch myself clock watching and was pulled into the gripping unfolding drama. There are some poignant scenes designed to provoke a reaction in the same way that Crash was criticised for and seems to be a trademark of Haggis but it is a small oversight in what is another high water mark in his career.

I would give this film 7.2 Tommy Lee Jones facial looks out of 10.



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