IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH

Paul Haggis’ sophomore effort is a gripping police procedural, a gut-wrenching emotional drama, and a brilliant anti-war film all in one. Tommy Lee Jones is the former Military Police father of a soldier who doesn’t quite make it home from Iraq. When it appears his son’s been murdered in a field in Texas, Jones enlists the aid of a tough female detective (Charlize Theron) to investigate and finds some things out he wishes he hadn’t. Susan Sarandon is Jones’ wife, resentful of a husband who inspired (we sense, not intentionally) two sons to go to war, only to have them both be killed. Writer-director Haggis is the screenwriter behind Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” (in my humble opinion, the best film of 2004, and the Oscars agreed), and also wrote and directed the best film of 2005, “Crash” (which also won Best Picture). Here, he’s crafted an involving mystery, wrapped in deceit, cover-up and a heartbreaking human element. As Haggis peels back the layers of truth upon truth, the mystery gets more bizarre – though not as factually complex as it first seems. When the shocking truth is revealed, you will be confused, appalled, and have tears in your eyes. This is a great film; one of 2007’s best!

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<br/><br />NOTE: Jones was a (deserving) nominee for the Best Actor Oscar.

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