In the Valley of Elah

  • 15
  • Paul Haggis (2007)
  • US
  • 121 min
In the Valley of Elah
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Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

Paul Haggis's directorial follow-up to his Oscar-winning Crash features a powerful performance from Tommy Lee Jones as the father of a missing soldier, recently returned from Iraq. When it appears as though US Army officials are orchestrating a cover-up, Hank Deerfield (the Oscar-nominated Jones) joins forces with small-town cop Emily Sanders (a world-weary Charlize Theron) to expose the truth. Inspired by a real-life story, Haggis's script expertly blends all the suspense of a traditional detective thriller with a disturbing, psychological portrait of young men trained to kill. More than anger, it is sympathy that Haggis arouses for their plight, presenting these soldiers as victims robbed of their humanity on the battlefields of Iraq by a government that doesn't care. The gravity of the situation occasionally weighs too heavily and slows the pace, but it's still a compelling watch. A simple image of the Stars and Stripes flying upside down, in tatters, has a greater emotional impact than anything seen in Crash.

Plot Summary

Crime drama starring Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon. When retired military policeman Hank Deerfield gets a call that his soldier son Mike - recently returned from a tour in Iraq - has gone missing, he drives from Tennessee to Mike's army base in New Mexico. But frustrated by a lack of information and help from army personnel and the local police, Hank decides to investigate himself.

Cast and crew


Hank Deerfield
Tommy Lee Jones
Det Emily Sanders
Charlize Theron
Joan Deerfield
Susan Sarandon
Sgt Dan Carnelli
James Franco
Mike Deerfield
Jonathan Tucker
Frances Fisher
Lt Kirklander
Jason Patric
Chief Buchwald
Josh Brolin
Cpl Steve Penning
Wes Chatham
Arnold Bickman
Barry Corbin
Spc Gordon Bonner
Jake McLaughlin


Paul Haggis

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Optimum Releasing
Violence, swearing, nudity.
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 25 Jan 2008
Certificate 15
Optimum Releasing