Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 68 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: In the Valley of Elah tells the story of a war veteran, his wife and the search for their son, a soldier who recently returned from Iraq but has mysteriously gone missing, as well as the police detective who helps in the investigation. (Warner Independent Pictures)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 100
    Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah is built on Tommy Lee Jones' persona, and that is why it works so well. The same material could have been banal or routine with an actor trying to be "earnest" and "sincere."
  2. Tommy Lee Jones is marvelous in the film. He has one scene in particular, a simple two-person encounter, that's as good as it gets in the realm of American screen acting.
  3. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    One of the best films of 2007 but I wonder if it’s difficult message will turn away filmgoers. Haggis has constructed a very bitter pill that needs to be swallowed, especially by hardcore pro-war Americans.
  4. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It's the casting of Iraq vet and non-professional Jake McLaughlin as Specialist Bonner, who fought alongside Deerfield's son in Iraq, that strikes a deeper emotional chord. His scenes with Jones, fraught with a complicated mix of bitterness, concern and guilt, are the best things in the movie.
  5. What Haggis obviously wants to explore is what the war in Iraq is doing to the humanity of our soldiers there. By approaching it indirectly, he simplifies it to a degree that I expect will anger many Iraq veterans.
  6. Journalists have a saying for someone who neglects or downplays the most important part of a news story: He buried the lead. That's what Paul Haggis does with "In the Valley of Elah," which submerges two important storylines beneath a pointless, unsatisfying whodunit.
  7. Haggis also appears to have no respect for his audience. At its crudest, the film settles for's no Hollywood guy's call, particularly as he's extrapolating from a single case that could have occurred anywhere, at any time.

See all 37 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 34
  2. Negative: 5 out of 34
  1. Nov 11, 2013
    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 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
  2. Feb 22, 2013
    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 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
  3. Feb 14, 2014
    I think that people are generally mistaken when they label a person as pro-war. War is a terrible, but sometimes necessary thing. Some people have written that this is an anti war movie, which is a very simplistic view and does not do the movie justice. This is a movie about the sudden transition from battle to being home and the consequences of that sudden transition. My father was in WW2 and saw battle. The transition time for him between battle and being home was longer due to the logistics of being home so many solders. He, and most solders in WW2, came home via ocean. I think the one month or so transition time between battle and being home helped by being a buffer time in which he could share experiences with others who had similar experiences and decompress. Was this a cure? No. Was it better? I think so. I don't think this movie questions the awful necessity for war, but it addresses our unrealistic expectations about soldiers reintegrating into a home atmosphere. As with most movies it focuses on the extreme visible edge of what can happen. While most soldiers do not display this type of behavior, the impact on their lives can be devastating for years. We all need to step back and treat our returning soldiers with respect and realize that while we will never understand their trauma, we can help them reintegrate into society with kindness and respect. Expand

See all 34 User Reviews