Handyfilm etc

Film reviews and other thoughts

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

In the Valley of Elah

In the Valley of Elah is intensely absorbing, and it features an extraordinary performance by Tommy Lee Jones. Its first two-thirds seemed to me much more satisfying than Paul Haggis’s previous film, the Oscar-winning Crash – less gimmicky and more assured. But the resolution of this murder mystery, set at and near a military base among soldiers returning from Iraq, is singularly jarring and almost ridiculous in its lack of credibility (even though this is supposedly based on “actual events”). Then this cockamamie revelation is used to make some sort of ill-conceived antiwar political statement. It threw me out of the movie entirely, and retroactively diminished the accomplishment of the first 100 minutes. But as the father of the murdered soldier, Jones makes the film worth seeing.

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