Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 91
    It's mysterious and bold at every turn, and refreshingly removed from the commonplace.
  2. Down in the Valley is exactly what we don't have enough of: It's singular, unusual, unexpected, fresh and familiar at once.
  3. 88
    Down in the Valley is a wild thing that sticks with you long after it's over. You know, a real movie.
  4. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    88
    Driven by Edward Norton's and Evan Rachel Wood's riveting performances, writer-director David Jacobson's tense drama samples bits of cinematic Americana from sources as diverse as "Shane," "Badlands" and "Taxi Driver."
  5. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    88
    The movie belongs to Wood, who creates a unique portrait of a girl hesitating at the threshold of womanhood; she's smarter, more attuned, and more spiritually ambitious than those around her, but also too decent and loyal to break from the world she knows-and too unformed to have a grasp of what she wants outside of that world. It's fantastic work.
  6. Odd, beautiful and ambitious film.
  7. 83
    Jacobson and his actors do so much with the characters that they leave an ambiguous residue of blood-streaked regrets and sadness.
  8. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    80
    The best thing about Down in the Valley is that you hope it's not going where you have an inkling it's going. The purity of Norton's madness is a wonder.
  9. 80
    A psychotic we can't help falling for, Edward Norton's beautifully drawn and richly nuanced dreamer could, in time, prove to be one of the most memorable movie characters of recent years.
  10. Jacobson, whose earlier film is a docudrama about Jeffrey Dahmer, is clearly fascinated with men who would be monsters. It's a ripe and infinite topic to explore, but without Norton, theme alone could not have sustained Down in the Valley.
  11. Writer-director David Jacobson has a good eye for widescreen compositions and sustains a low-key note of dread but is less successful in his attempt to graft a neo-Western to a neo-noir.
  12. 70
    Writer-director David Jacobson has an excitingly clear-eyed, unsentimental feel for the intensity of adolescent passion.
  13. Begins semirealistically, then veers off course, hurtling into the wild blue yonder of myth and allegory. On the way to a climactic shootout that begins on the set of a Hollywood western and ends on a foggy hillside, it makes several screeching, hairpin turns.
  14. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    70
    Result is imperfect and overlong, but hugely ambitious and often breathtaking.
  15. 63
    When a movie begins to present one implausible or unwise decision after another, when its world plays too easily into the hands of its story, when the taste for symbolism creates impossible scenes, we grow restless.
  16. 63
    Down in the Valley becomes increasingly harder to believe as it goes along, with people behaving in ways that strain credibility.
  17. As it progresses, the film takes us to another borderland, that between reality and delusion. This is where Harlan's mind freely gallops.
  18. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    The performances are deep and rich -- Wood is coming to seem like a smarter Chloe Sevigny, Rory looks to be the Culkin with talent, and Norton's portrayal of Harlan aches with ambiguity.
  19. Down in the Valley is one of those pictures you root for even when it goes badly wrong.
  20. Reviewed by: Felix Vasques Jr.
    60
    An original and utterly unconventional tragedy of fantasy and reality, and the potential lethal results of worlds colliding. Ed, glad to have you back.
  21. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    60
    For a film that has allegedly undergone extensive tinkering following its premiere at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Down in the Valley abounds in nagging loose ends and suffers overall from logy pacing.
  22. What keeps us watching? Chiefly it is Edward Norton's performance as Harlan. It is hard to doubt his belief in everything he says, no matter how silly or dangerous it sounds.
  23. The film is thrown off balance by the weight of Norton's compassion for this troubled soul.
  24. Edward Norton serves as lead actor and producer, but even his star power won't help this misfire reach a wide domestic audience.
  25. The movie turns into something strange and annoying, an attempted blend of a suburban thriller with an Old West shoot-'em-up.
  26. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    50
    Sucker-punches you. It appears to be an engagingly sweet romance, but it's really just about other movies.
  27. In the end, it's really just a thriller, slower than most, with pockets of dead time but with a few extra flourishes, too, thanks to Norton.
  28. It feels mechanical, more conceptual than realized, like a senior project by a particularly ambitious student who's recently read "West of Everything" – and who's lucked into working with a world-class actor.
  29. As long as Norton plays Harlan as a modern-day Joe Buck, a kind of four-in-the-afternoon cowboy, we're drawn by his waltz of innocence and vagueness. But Down in the Valley turns out to be one of those films with a thick, gummy overlay of Western ''mythology.''
  30. 50
    While Jacobson navigates the first half of Down in the Valley deftly, he loses his way in the second.
  31. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    50
    Like "Don't Come Knocking," this contrived lament for the lonesome cowboy means to measure what remains of the old western in the absence of the Old West, eventually plopping its displaced ranch hand protagonist onto the fake Main Street of an old western movie set just to make sure we don't miss any of the cine-mythic connotations.
  32. Both actors work hard to give this disturbing crime story some flavor and substance, but the narrative is overextended and poorly organized.
  33. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    40
    Never has the term 'American Independent' so obviously been code for 'wholly miserable experience'.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 14
  2. Negative: 6 out of 14
  1. patriziap.
    Aug 8, 2008
    10
    I love this movie and I think edward norton is the best actor in the world! to Liz: norton può avere un grande ego ma ha anche un enorme talento che voi americani non sapete appezzare. Full Review »
  2. liz
    Apr 9, 2008
    2
    VIsually beautiful, big yawner. Terrible movie experience. Edward Norton an enormous talent? Enormous ego unmatched by talent.
  3. RichR.
    Oct 29, 2006
    3
    Started out interestingly, I'll give it that. Edward Norton? One of our best young actors, no doubt about it. But this just imploded about 2/3 of the way through. Sorry. I really wanted to like this movie. Plus the Dad part was really dumb. The girl was good, though. The little brother? Boring, with bad hair to boot. Full Review »