/* new */

Saturday, May 10, 2008

In the Valley of Elah

Though this is as sad a film as I've seen in a long time, and the unfolding story of a young soldier's murder in his first week home from Iraq has no happy resolution, I found this not half so bleak as No Country For Old Men. The acting is supurb - especially Tommie Lee Jones again, as a father determined to discover the truth, and Charlize Theron as a civilian policewoman suffering the indignities of a female whose male colleagues believe she has slept her way into the detective division. This is a suspenseful and moving story of how "modern" warfare can affect the young people we send into combat, as well as the people back home.

A retired Army sergeant, who has already lost one son in modern war,gets a report that his younger son has gone AWOL on his first day back from his Iraq tour. When the young man doesn't show, the father drives down to the base to find him. It doesn't take long to learn that no one has seen the young man, and when a report comes into the police that a body has been found in a field, it is no surprise to the viewer that the worst has happened. Pushing, nudging, questioning, Jones's sergeant won't let the Army stonewall him or the civilian police drop a young man's death because of a "jurisdictional dispute." Theron's detective transforms her own depression into pity into action into indignation, as the father's determination shames her into action. As the higher-ups try to sweep the ugliness under the rug, the two follow the evidence - credit card receipts, disturbing clips from the dead man's cell phone, photos, flags... This is one that won't leave your consciousness for a long time. And it shouldn't.

No comments: