Entertainment Weekly - 09/14/2007
"[A] lacerating, bone-deep inquiry into the war in Iraq....Tense, urgent, and meditative." -- Grade: A
USA Today - 09/14/2007 3.5 stars out of 4 -- "IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH is a rare blend of emotional content and intelligent material that makes it simultaneously gut-wrenching and thought-provoking."
New York Times - 09/14/2007
"Underneath its deceptively quiet surface is a raw, angry earnest attempt to grasp the moral consequences of the war in Iraq..."
Rolling Stone - 10/04/2007 3 stars out of 4 -- "The spare, ingrained purity of Jones' work...is astonishing....Haunting, heart-piercing...essential."
Total Film - 01/01/2008 4 stars out of 5 -- "Jones presents another memorable essay in morally compromised machismo..."
Uncut - 02/01/2008 3 stars out of 5 -- "Tommy Lee Jones' performance as Hank Deerfield, a former Army sergeant and Vietnam veteran...gives the film its compelling motor..."
Empire - 02/01/2008 4 stars out of 5 -- "A personal take on universal injustices, free from preachiness....[I]t's Jones' film to its boots....It's the subtle variations that make him a joy to watch."
Tommy Lee Jones plays Hank Deerfield, a retired military man investigating the mysterious disappearance of his soldier son, Mike, in this somber mystery-drama from director Paul Haggis (CRASH). Charlize Theron is the civilian homicide cop in the small town near the base where Mike recently returned from a term of combat in Iraq. When this unlikely pair ends up investigating the mystery together, they encounter some suspicious covering-up from the army. Deerfield gets access to his son's camera phone which contains startling video footage from combat overseas. Using a muted palette of military browns and greens, Haggis shows the same sharp eye for humanistic detail that served him so well in CRASH, infusing desolate scenes of civilian life--sterile concrete barracks, sleazy strip clubs, homey but empty diners, drugs, fast food joints, and ghostly motels--with vivid detail. Performances are all Oscar-worthy: Jones's craggy, weather-beaten face hiding grief and anguish beneath a steely facade until they threatens to boil over. His mug becomes a symbol for an America with no other choice but to confront its own grave flaws if it's ever to find any answers. Susan Sarandon bring the pain to the surface as the anguished mother waiting at home, and Theron is strong and sure, as a single mother who bravely faces, among other challenges, harassment in the workplace. Josh Brolin is her ex, the chief of police, and Jason Patric and James Franco are among the impassive faces of the military.