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In the Valley of Elah (2008)

Josh Brolin , Barry Corbin , Paul Haggis  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Josh Brolin, Barry Corbin, Wayne Duvall, Frances Fisher, Tommy Lee Jones
  • Directors: Paul Haggis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 19, 2008
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0011V7PSC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,517 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "In the Valley of Elah" on IMDb

Special Features

  • In the Valley of Elah: After Iraq
  • In the Valley of Elah: Coming Home
  • Additional scene

Editorial Reviews

In career Army officer Hank Deerfield's worldview, the American military exists to bring order to the world, and honor and dignity to every one of its soldiers. As played by Tommy Lee Jones, in a layered performance that will haunt the viewer long after the film is over, Deerfield wears the Army life like he does his standard-issue white T-shirts--unconsciously making a cheap motel bed with crisp inspection-ready corners. Yet if war is hell, the purgatory for the relatives of damaged soldiers can cause far more anguish, and Paul Haggis' quietly devastating In the Valley of Elah tells this story through Deerfield, who is desperately trying to piece together the fate of his adored son Mike, a soldier in Iraq.

Mike's company has returned from duty, but he is missing; Hank flies from Tennessee to Fort Rudd in the Southwest, to conduct his own investigation into the disappearance. There he meets a smart but put-upon police officer (Charlize Theron, glammed-down but still showing a bit too much sexy collarbone for a cop) who also smells something off in the Army's official story of the disappearance. The two form an unlikely team, but as a friend tells Deerfield early on, "You gotta trust somebody sometime, Hank," and Mike's vanishing is Hank's tipping point.

As Hank pieces together the horrifying story of Mike's fate, the incremental pain becomes etched in Jones' ragged features, and the camera captures all of it--far more powerfully than could a million words of reportage from the front lines. Theron's performance is also strong, and Susan Sarandon is moving if underutilized as Hank's grief-stricken wife, robbed of the simple nuclear family life she so wanted. "They shouldn't send heroes to places like Iraq," says one of Mike's buddies late in the film, and it's the viewers' collective sorrow--and the film's great achievement--to feel that at the deepest human level. --A.T. Hurley

Product Description

Mike Deerfield returns to the U.S. after his tour of duty in Iraq and abruptly goes missing. His father Hank, a spit-and-polish ex-MP from the Vietnam era, goes looking for him. What he finds goes to the heart of American combat experiences in the Iraqi conflict. Academy Award®-winning* Crash filmmaker Paul Haggis teams with Oscar®- winning* actors Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon in a probing, powerful, fact-based look at fathers and sons…and at a nation and the young soldiers it sends into battle. Jones plays Hank, whose quest lays bare a tangled web of cover-up, murder, mystery and profound revelation about the personal costs of war.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece! February 6, 2008
By Tristan
There have been many films about the aftermath of war, but never have I seen such a brutally honest and shocking depiction of the de-humanization of soldiers back from war. This is the underlying premise of the new crime thriller from academy award winning writer/director Paul Haggis (Crash).

Hank Deerfield (played by Tommy Lee Jones) is a retired veteran and military police officer searching for his son who has gone AWOL. A detective Emily Sanders (played by Charlize Theron) becomes interested in the case and starts helping Hank outside of her job. When Hank's son's body is found, the search suddenly turns into a search for the murderer.

One of the many aspects I appreciated was that director Haggis did not turn this into a typical Hollywood crime thriller and also not turn it into a political propaganda piece against the war and President Bush. Instead he mixes the two plots together seamless and subtle, letting you decide for your self.

Tommy Lee Jones gives the best performance of his long career as he plays a quiet, emotionless war vet, but still shows tremendous amount of emotion. Just watching his face as he sits in a diner and listens to one of his retired friends tell him about plans to go visit his grandchildren is heartbreaking. We can almost see the internal emotional struggle as he realizes he will never be able to do that. Charlize Theron does a wonderful job as the detective, and despite her small screen time Susan Surandon plays the grieving wife of Jones to perfection.

This film is such a moving masterpiece on so many levels it is simply wonderful to watch. The quiet pacing of the film building up to the climax is captivatingly intense in its own way.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Theron tour de force February 20, 2008
First of all, I have no idea why this movie was panned or lauded during its theatrical release as some kind of statement for or against the Iraq war. After having watched it, the political ramifications of that war are, in my opinion, totally irrelevant to this movie as a work of entertainment. There have been atrocities in every war since tribes were clubbing each other with mastodon bones, so let's just put that aside.

Having been raised in the military as an Army brat -- and being a veteran myself -- I really love movies oriented toward military subjects, and this movie doesn't disappoint. In many ways, it's territory we've explored before in movies such as "The Caine Mutiny", "A Few Good Men", "Basic", "The General's Daughter", "Rules of Engagement" (another Jones movie), and many others. Why this one was castigated as being anti-war in any special way is totally beyond me.

We have a stellar cast in what is essentially a "Courage Under Fire" genre movie, a Rashomon scenario, wherein Tommy Lee Jones -- the father of a murdered vet -- tries to uncover the details of his son's murder with the help of an outcast female police detective played by Charlize Theron.

Jones is always a marvel to watch, and the supporting cast is also top notch: Josh Brolin, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon, Francis Fisher (in a gutsy role for a middle-aged woman), as well as the lesser lights.

But in my opinion, Charlize Theron stole this show, hands down.
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96 of 121 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The rest of the story April 6, 2008
Much has been made of the fact that this movie is based on a true story, the 2003 murder of Richard Davis, a story chronicled by Mark Boal in an extensive magazine article, "Death and Dishonor," that appeared in the May 2004 issue of Playboy (an article that can be found online and that is far more thought-provoking than this film). Some reviews go so far as to say that the film hews closely to the story reported by Boal, but the truth is otherwise. (The film opens with the statement that it was "inspired by actual incidents" - a statement that usually heralds significant dramatic license.) Indeed, of adapting his story for the screen, Mr. Boal, who shares writing credits for the story with director Paul Haggis (Mr. Haggis alone is credited with the screenplay), had this to say: "It's a fictional piece [the film], and so at various junctures Paul [Haggis] and I thought we should change Lanny's story to make it feel more universal." The Lanny to which Mr. Boal refers is Lanny Davis, the real-life father of the victim and the model for the character Hank Deerfield, whom Tommy Lee Jones plays. Exactly what was done to make the story "feel more universal"? Be advised that spoilers follow.

Lanny Davis, upon whom Hank Deerfield is based, is, in fact, a 20-year veteran of the Army, 16 of those years with the Military Police. About a month after his son, Richard Davis, was reported AWOL, from his first 2-day pass following his return from six months in Iraq, Mr. Davis traveled to Fort Bragg, where he spent several days trying unsuccessfully to motivate a missing-person investigation into his son's disappearance by either Army or civilian authorities. Failing in that effort, he returned home.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Movie!!! The ending grabs you by the gut.
Published 2 days ago by Johnny D. May
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 5 days ago by REBECCA KIRKLAND
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It's Ok
Published 19 days ago by A'Yuh
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful
Powerful statement about possible effects of PTSD upon our military.
Published 1 month ago by John M. Quinones
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously strong movie!
This is a very serious movie! This movie makes you think about those enlisted and how the military could affect their lives during and after serving!
Published 1 month ago by Hope
4.0 out of 5 stars A complex and subtle treatment
Of a complex and troubling issue - what happens to soldiers in violent combat with impossible rules of engagement, in which the enemy is undefined and plays by far different and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Raymond
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly what I expected
Okay movie and I like all of the actors but not exactly the movie line I expected. Movie quality was good.
Published 3 months ago by Gary White
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Human Drama
Yes, it is about the fall-out of war and some people will hate this film because they feel it is too political. Others will love it for the same reason. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Promise
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
Very good movie....great story line....great actors....kept my attention the whole movie....I would highly recommend it. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jennifer Hartwig
5.0 out of 5 stars The sorrow of the Father
Very good to the end of the story. When there are people who will "do the right thing" eventually the truth does come out. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Linda Walmer
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it sounded to me like tom jones.....but i don't remember the name of the song
Jan 9, 2009 by Patricia Itzig-heine |  See all 3 posts
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