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? Written by
Paul Hagas's "In the Valley of Elah" follows carefully and closely all the long held and well affirmed standards of any good murder mystery. For anyone who really enjoys this Genre you won't be disappointed.
That being said I believe the performances also strengthen this story. Tommy Lee Jones hands in a subdued yet internally complex performance the like I've never seen him do before. He is tough and yet has the sensitivity necessary to drive the character along to where it needs to go. Susan Sarandon gives a strong performance as the mother of a missing soldier. She is placed in the position of an actress having to create a great role from a small part and pulls it off by tapping what must be very heartfelt emotions.
Ms. Theron is good and carries off her part well. She is once again not afraid to look bad in order to carry a role. It is a good performance...that's all. I'm not writing home to Mom over it though. The rest of the cast is very strong and gives me great hope for the future of Film making in this country. The cast works well together and makes a compelling story.
The part of this film that is the Star and center piece is Paul Hagas's script. He sets up the characters and situations in a direct and fast manner. The storyline is consistent and flows well and as I mentioned he follows the correct direction that any good murder mystery should. He also makes us aware of the growing struggles of our soldiers and what is going on as a result of this war in Iraq. Please see this film and look at it for what it is...a good mystery with great performances.
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