In the Valley of Elah
All the horror & grit of war wrapped up in a tidy little 121-minute flicker show.
Tommy Lee Jones portrays a former Military Police Investigator whose son has returned home from Iraq and gone AWOL. His son is found murdered in a brutal fashion, and the rest of the movie is spent in a hunt for justice and a realization of the utter ugliness that war spawns.
The film carries a strong anti-Iraq War sentiment, especially toward the end of the film, and most blatantly in the final scene. Also, there was too much unnecessary frontal nudity: it was profuse, gratuitous, and needless. Subtlety of any kind went out the window in the making of this film: it's in your face & raw.
I'm really not happy about the amount of nipples I've seen in the last two movies I've reviewed. And, for the record, I didn't even see all of them because I diverted my eyes elsewhere during many of those scenes.
The acting was superb. Al Gore's former college room-mate (that's Tommy Lee Jones, if you didn't already know) was the star, of course. He was absolutely deserving of his Academy Award Nomination in this role. You feel all the emotions of the film (from anxiety to sorrow to helplessness to rage to remorse right along with TLJ. I think that's the mark of a great actor -- to be able to transmit an emotion from his portrayal to the viewer's heart. The other portrayal that captured my attention was a particular Susan Sarandon scene -- your heart just breaks with her's. All the other players do their jobs well, too.
I wish I could write more, but it would either be anti-war sentiment, anti-"anti-war" sentiment, or plot points that would give away a lot of the film. A well-told story, but some points (anti-Iraq War & all the boobs) were too overt for me find this a completely fulfilling experience. Four stars.