In the Valley of Elah (2007)  This was a really, really good movie.  While it is touted as being based on a true story, it’s a VERY loose adaptation, in addition to adding several other factual side storylines about PTSD.  So don’t go into viewing this thinking it’s “truth”.  48 Hours has a much more in-depth profile on this case, and it was because I’d seen it I knew Elah was more fiction than fact.

 

Tommy Lee Jones was fabulous, and I can easily see how he got the Best Actor nomination (but not the win…his costar in No Country For Old Men, Javier Bardem, won). As the father of an Army specialist who is first assumed to be AWOL after returning from Iraq, then is discovered murdered, he’s the picture of laconic grief.  Every expression that passes over his face is a study in fine acting… You get sucked into the movie, into his character, and forget you’re watching a flick, instead investing yourself in each frame.

 

Charlize Theron was equally amazing as Detective Emily Sanders. She slid into the role so seamlessly, I actually had to look up the movie to see who was playing the character.  Seriously, she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, and in this movie, you just don’t see that stunning beauty; instead you focus on the role she plays and her fine acting.

 

Some reviews I’ve seen from normal schmos like me suggest that this movie is a condemnation of the war in Iraq.  Far from it, at least in my opinion.  Instead, it raises serious questions about how we treat our returning soldiers.

 

At it’s heart, this is a movie about a man who ends up questioning everything he has ever known…the institution of the military, whom he faithfully served; his son; even the strength of his marriage.

 

I’d highly recommend this movie to anyone, but be warned, the depictions and emotions in this flick are brutal and gut-wrenching. The NY Times wrote a better review than I ever could, so if you’re interested, check it out here http://movies.nytimes.com/2007/09/14/movies/14elah.html

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