User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 73 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 62 out of 73
  2. Negative: 7 out of 73
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  1. ClaireM.
    Jan 26, 2009
    10
    One of the best films I've seen in a,ong time. Deserves an 11. Tommy Lee Jones is marvelous in the film and Charlize Theron is very good as a woman struggling for respect in a sexist environment. This is a sad, subtle and very good movie, designed to make you feel the impact of large events on little lives...
  2. JoseA.
    Feb 5, 2008
    9
    I think all of you Americans,who dislike this movie are completely wrong. It doesn't target,in first place,your government,even not your army,but the "beast" of war itself.Brave film Mr Haggis.And above all brave ending"SPOILER"making Tommy lee s character even more responsible than Gov/army/himself for what happened to his son.
  3. DeanD.
    Aug 30, 2008
    9
    I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican; I am a Canadian. Now that we have that straight, I can't be labelled a liberal or a patriot. Too much attention of the reviewers was directed towards the upside down flag symbolizing America in distress. Some thought this was an anti-American action because it disrespects American soldiers. However, I was impressed that the director had I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican; I am a Canadian. Now that we have that straight, I can't be labelled a liberal or a patriot. Too much attention of the reviewers was directed towards the upside down flag symbolizing America in distress. Some thought this was an anti-American action because it disrespects American soldiers. However, I was impressed that the director had Jones, after he sees his son's picture of his squad, place only his son's military portait on the dresser and not the picture of his son with his squad. This shows Jones's character was still proud of his son but he did not agree America should be in Iraq. He believes that this is destroying America's youth. Even if they arrive back home in one piece, they have lost a part of their humanity. That is why he places the American flag upside down; it represents that America's youth returning from Iraq are in distress. I would put this movie in the same category as Tom Cruise's "Fourth of July" because both movies speak to the young Americans' souls that were irreparably damaged by a war in a faraway land that few could find on a map before hostilities began. Expand
  4. Roger
    Sep 16, 2007
    10
    This is an intense and powerful film.
  5. PeterK.
    Mar 12, 2008
    10
    This movie deserves an 11. Most people miss the elemental power of Tommy Lee Jones's smoldering performance and the depth of dramatic irony the writing has instilled in the part of Hank Deerfield, a father unraveling the horrific and mesmerizing truths of his son's disappearance which rivals anything that Sophocles did 2,500 years ago. This film, largely ignored by all but the This movie deserves an 11. Most people miss the elemental power of Tommy Lee Jones's smoldering performance and the depth of dramatic irony the writing has instilled in the part of Hank Deerfield, a father unraveling the horrific and mesmerizing truths of his son's disappearance which rivals anything that Sophocles did 2,500 years ago. This film, largely ignored by all but the critics, is one of the best to come out in decades. Expand
  6. DavidZ.
    Oct 10, 2007
    9
    A very good movie. I hated the very last scene but the acting was terrific and the story compelling. Well worth a visit.
  7. MINTONmedia
    Nov 5, 2007
    10
    I'm not a Haggis fan and have found his work consistently overrated by critics. To me, "Crash" was a muddled parable and "Million Dollar Baby" a wallow-in-it disaster. But in this film, he (with the brilliant acting assistance of Jones, Theron, Sarandon and everyone else) has hit one out of the park. By telling the story via an intriguing mystery plotline and rooting it deeply in the I'm not a Haggis fan and have found his work consistently overrated by critics. To me, "Crash" was a muddled parable and "Million Dollar Baby" a wallow-in-it disaster. But in this film, he (with the brilliant acting assistance of Jones, Theron, Sarandon and everyone else) has hit one out of the park. By telling the story via an intriguing mystery plotline and rooting it deeply in the flawed character Jones plays, he makes a "political" statement without politics...and the film works because of it. Expand
  8. JakeK.
    Oct 9, 2007
    9
    It's refreshing to finally see a movie willing to truthfully and poignantly examine the divide between the soldiers fighting in Iraq and the people they come home to. Paul Haggis manages to tell a devastating story without resorting to sentimentality or sensationalism. "In the Valley of Elah" is must-see viewing for anyone still picturing this war from a black-and-white moral It's refreshing to finally see a movie willing to truthfully and poignantly examine the divide between the soldiers fighting in Iraq and the people they come home to. Paul Haggis manages to tell a devastating story without resorting to sentimentality or sensationalism. "In the Valley of Elah" is must-see viewing for anyone still picturing this war from a black-and-white moral perspective. Tommy Lee Jones puts in a perfect restrained performance, framed beautifully by Roger Deakins' equally understated photography. I should note that I almost skipped this one because I disliked "Crash" for being so overbearing. Collapse
  9. [Anonymous]
    Sep 25, 2007
    9
    An extremely well-done and sensitive portrayal of what happens to good men when confronted with the horrors of mankind...unflinching in its honesty with a powerful performance by Tommy Lee Jones.
  10. EmilieM.
    Jan 24, 2009
    10
    A heartrending tale about what war does to even good young men. Not an anti-Iraq film, as some critics complain, but a film about the dangers of war many of us never contemplate. Acting and direction was brilliant.
  11. DottieC.
    Sep 23, 2007
    9
    My sister and I just got home from seeing the movie and having coffee after. I think the film shows more than a "predictable" ending! A proud retired military man, a wife beaten down with grief from losing a son, a couple getting by. This "proud" father sees his son in the light of reality. A young man so changed and having done things his father could never imagined he would be capable My sister and I just got home from seeing the movie and having coffee after. I think the film shows more than a "predictable" ending! A proud retired military man, a wife beaten down with grief from losing a son, a couple getting by. This "proud" father sees his son in the light of reality. A young man so changed and having done things his father could never imagined he would be capable of. He had to keep on until he "found" his son and he had to accept what he had become. He felt partly responsible, he had to hide so much from his wife, I am sure, so to spare her the pain. When Penning said so matter of factly that he stabbed Michael, you knew that they all were changed by what they had seen and done. It was so powerful the way he just said it..."I stabbed him." As we sat on a bench we struck up a conversation with a 24 year old man who had recently gotten home and discharged from the Army. We asked him lots of questions and he was quite forthright. He is now estranged from his family because when he came home he couldn't relate right away and they just didn't understand what he had been through. He does not think we had the right to go in to a "sovereign country" and take down their ruler. He said we don't see reality here. Some areas they hate us and you speed through for your own safety. I am so happy that he is alive, but he has a lot of healing to do. I think Jones acting was superb and the music haunting. I won't forget this movie. Expand
  12. Enrique
    Sep 25, 2007
    10
    Close to perfection. Extremely moving and thought provoking. One of the best movie so far this year.
  13. JanetA.
    Sep 25, 2007
    9
    Disturbing, haunting story about what the war in Iraq is doing to our soldiers. Considered as a movie, it is excellent, good acting, more and more information is revealed as the story goes along.
  14. Feb 22, 2013
    10
    In The Valley of Elah is a true story, that follows the disappearance and murder of a solider, recently returning home from Iraq. Tommy Lee Jones plays that soldiers father, a retired Military Police Officer, who launches his own investigation, and he continues to be the best actor I've ever seen. Jones rightfully received an Academy Award Nomination for this role and really should haveIn The Valley of Elah is a true story, that follows the disappearance and murder of a solider, recently returning home from Iraq. Tommy Lee Jones plays that soldiers father, a retired Military Police Officer, who launches his own investigation, and he continues to be the best actor I've ever seen. Jones rightfully received an Academy Award Nomination for this role and really should have won. No matter the film, no matter if it's good or bad, Jones simply steals the show and makes it work. Charlize Theron was also terrific as the Detective who wanted to solve the case that nobody else wanted. In most things I've seen her in, I didn't like her, but here her performance actually rivals Jones's. This film is extremely well written and very methodical. If The Valley of Elah can't keep your attention and have you on the edge of seat, talking to the screen, than nothing else will. This is honestly one of the best written, acted, and important films I've seen in a very long time. This one's going on the must see list and you will defiantly not be disappointed! Expand
  15. Nov 11, 2013
    10
    This is a seriously thought provoking movie. Some people will hate it because they actually NEED to live in nationalistic illusions. But for those who have eyes willing to see, and ears willing to hear, this movie asks us to really think about war... what we do to the children (ours and theirs), what we are complicit in, and what we normally refuse to see, despite the mounting statisticsThis is a seriously thought provoking movie. Some people will hate it because they actually NEED to live in nationalistic illusions. But for those who have eyes willing to see, and ears willing to hear, this movie asks us to really think about war... what we do to the children (ours and theirs), what we are complicit in, and what we normally refuse to see, despite the mounting statistics on effects on our returning soldiers. This movie was a real wake up call, with superb acting, writing and directing... it is for grown-ups, though. Expand
Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 40
    The movie chickens out. In the Valley of Elah could have been really interesting -- and really daring -- if it had focused on Hank's realization that his own child, supposedly a good kid, had perhaps committed the kinds of atrocities that would make any decent human being recoil. The movie (which Haggis also wrote) dances around that territory, but doesn't dare to march straight into its terrifying maw.
  2. 80
    No one could mistake the movie for a documentary, but the picture has some of the rectitude of a good documentary--a tone of plainness without flatness.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    This is a sad, subtle and very good movie, designed not so much to make you think, but to make you feel the impact of large events on little lives.