In the Valley of Elah

September 28th, 2007


In the Valley of Elah

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Still of Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron in In the Valley of ElahStill of Susan Sarandon in In the Valley of ElahSpike Lee and Paul Haggis at event of In the Valley of ElahStill of Charlize Theron in In the Valley of ElahStill of Charlize Theron in In the Valley of ElahStill of Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron in In the Valley of Elah

A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son's disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Release Year: 2007

Rating: 7.3/10 (35,966 voted)

Critic's Score: 65/100

Director: Paul Haggis

Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jonathan Tucker

In Monroe, Tennessee, Hank Deerfield, an aging warrior, gets a call that his son, just back from 18 months' fighting in Iraq, is missing from his base. Hank drives to Fort Rudd, New Mexico, to search. Within a day, the charred and dismembered body of his son is found on the outskirts of town. Deerfield pushes himself into the investigation, marked by jurisdictional antagonism between the Army and local police. Working mostly with a new detective, Emily Sanders, Hank seems to close in on what happened. Major smuggling? A drug deal gone awry? Credit card slips, some photographs, and video clips from Iraq may hold the key. If Hank gets to the truth, what will it tell him?

Writers: Paul Haggis, Mark Boal

Tommy Lee Jones - Hank Deerfield
Charlize Theron - Det. Emily Sanders
Jason Patric - Lt. Kirklander
Susan Sarandon - Joan Deerfield
James Franco - Sgt. Dan Carnelli
Barry Corbin - Arnold Bickman
Josh Brolin - Chief Buchwald
Frances Fisher - Evie
Wes Chatham - Corporal Steve Penning
Jake McLaughlin - Spc. Gordon Bonner
Mehcad Brooks - Spc. Ennis Long
Jonathan Tucker - Mike Deerfield
Wayne Duvall - Detective Nugent
Victor Wolf - Private Robert Ortiez
Brent Briscoe - Detective Hodge

Taglines: One Father's Fight To Find The Truth.


Official Website: Official site [Japan] | Warner Bros [France] |

Release Date: 28 September 2007

Filming Locations: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Opening Weekend: $133,557 (USA) (16 September 2007) (9 Screens)

Gross: $29,527,293 (Worldwide) (29 March 2009)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

According to Paul Haggis, Clint Eastwood helped get this film greenlight.

Miscellaneous: The opening subtitle says that the Deerfields live in "Munro, Tennessee", but the address on the side of Hank's truck says "Munroe, Tennessee".

[first lines]
Spc. Gordon Bonner: What are you doing? Get back in the fucking vehicle man! Mike, get back in the fucking vehicle. Let's go, Mike, now!

User Review

Why do most critics attack this film for being heavy-handed?

Rating: 9/10

Only Roger Ebert and the reviewer for Rolling Stone seem to see the truth here: this film is slow and elegiac because it deals with heavy matters, but it is never boring, not if you understand the situation and the depth of feelings being explored. It's as if reviewers don't get it because they didn't really feel what the film is saying. Saying that there have been dozens of films about how war ruins men so it's a cliché, and that this one is too dreary and slow means that a person has stopped feeling for what is really hurtful, is even in denial. And that's the theme of this film: what happens when we lose touch with what's painful and don't care any more. The film is restrained but powerful, which is why it has such a strong effect.

Jones is wonderfully grim, with a face like a road map, as he explores what happened to his son. Charlize Theron is beautiful even though she is playing a woman who is forced to act as non-sexy as possible to get on in her job in a male police force. Susan Sarandon is not, as some critic said, "underused"; she gives a performance that is all the more powerful because it is restrained. This movie should be a must see for all who believe that the Iraq war should continue until there is an honorable time for America to leave. That time is already passed.


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