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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 69 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. PeterK.
    Mar 12, 2008
    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
  3. DeanD.
    Aug 30, 2008
    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. NormD.
    Feb 19, 2008
    worth high marks just for willingness to show somewhat realistic, morally compromised, yet sympathetic characters.
  5. EssiS
    Mar 17, 2009
    I liked the simplicity of this film. Tommy Lee Jones was perfectly cast and he gave an amazing performance. Well deserved Oscar nomination. Also the anti-war theme was written beautifully in the script. Expand
  6. BillyS.
    Sep 22, 2007
    Tommy Lee Jones gives a remarkable Oscar worthy performance in "In The Valley Of Elah", it's just too bad that the movie doesn't. The acting in the movie is the only thing that elevates it above a very poorly executed anti-war movie that ruins its best dramatic scenes with cheap symbolism. Haggis made a beautiful tapestry about race with Crash, but this time he just throws a big old Iraqi blanket over us without trying to be subtle. In the Valley of Elah is my first big disappointment for a movie with such high anticaption. I hope the Academy will atleast remember Tommy Lee in No Country for Old Men come nominations, he's a great actor and deserving. Expand
  7. DavidR.
    Dec 4, 2007
    I was thinking that the President of Iran was the money behind the film. The "America is the evil empire" crowd now has their own classic.

See all 34 User Reviews