"In The Valley Of Elah" stars Tommy Lee Jones in an amazing performance as Hank Deerfield, the father of a soldier just returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq. It seems that young Mike Deerfield has gone AWOL and the army has no clue where he has run off to. Worried for the safety of his son and hoping that his 20 years of previous person military experience will assist him in some way, Hank heads to the base to find his son, leaving his doting wife Joan (Susan Sarandon) at home to wait by the phone for any news. Simple searching soon leads to a full on investigation into the whereabouts of the missing soldier. Hank is joined in his search by bullheaded police detective Emily Sanders played by the lovely Charlize Theron.
Tommy Lee Jones made this film for me. His performance was so riveting that I could not remove my eyes from the screen. His emotion was so honest and sincere that I found it near impossible to even wonder if it wasn’t real. The story is fresh and engaging. It also kept me guessing for pretty much the entire duration. Charlize Theron fits into the "tough as nails, but with a heart of gold" mold quite nicely and the supporting cast which includes Josh Brolin decked out in full mustache as has been his custom as of late ("No Country For Old Men," "American Gangster") do a nice job of tying together some ends that might otherwise be loose.
The tale this film tells is truly a harrowing one. It gives us a deep look into one of the seedier sides of life as a U.S. soldier in Iraq and the process of returning home to a place that now feels foreign. The telling of some parts of this story is done through email correspondence and cell phone videos sent to Tommy’s character by his son. The raw intensity and gritty realism displayed by the film makers here is quite phenomenal. As we are given glimpses of photos and video, we can piece things together in our minds right alongside Hank Deerfield as we realize together just exactly what his son has just been through.
I loved this film for too many reasons to mention and I would surely recommend it to anyone who may be in the mood for a good crime drama, emotional story. Do not expect many rainbows and butterflies, but remember life is not always as pleasant as it may seem.
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