In the Valley of Elah (2007)

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In Monroe, Tennessee, Hank Deerfield, an aging warrior, gets a call that his son, just back from 18 months' fighting in Iraq, is missing from his base. Hank drives to Fort Rudd, New Mexico, to search. Within a day, the charred and dismembered body of his son is found on the outskirts of town. Deerfield pushes himself into the investigation, marked by jurisdictional antagonism between the Army and local police. Working mostly with a new detective, Emily Sanders, Hank seems to close in on what happened. Major smuggling? A drug deal gone awry? Credit card slips, some photographs, and video clips from Iraq may hold the key. If Hank gets to the truth, what will it tell him?
Tommy Lee Jones as Hank Deerfield
Charlize Theron as Det. Emily Sanders
Jason Patric as Lt. Kirklander
Susan Sarandon as Joan Deerfield
James Franco as Sgt. Dan Carnelli
Barry Corbin as Arnold Bickman
Josh Brolin as Chief Buchwald
Frances Fisher as Evie
Wes Chatham as Cpl. Steve Penning
Jake McLaughlin as Spc. Gordon Bonner
Mehcad Brooks as Spc. Ennis Long
Jonathan Tucker as Spc. Mike Deerfield
Wayne Duvall as Detective Nugent
Victor Wolf as Pvt. Robert Ortiez
Brent Briscoe as Detective Hodge
Full cast

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The movie was very well done, and the cast was great, especially Tommy Lee Jones playing the father. He captured Mr Davis really well. As far as the story goes I am a bit critical since I know the true story first hand. There a few parts like the torture scene that just did not happen! I know, Spc Davis(the victim) Was in my squad in Iraq, and at no point in the war did he ever torture anyone. I had to keep reminding myself through out the movie that it is only loosely based on the actual events. I just found parts of it hard to swallow. Also the guys that where involved in the murder, should have more of the blame layed upon them than the movie actually put there. Knowing each one of the soilders personally and having been best friends with one of them, I know them as well as anyone, after spending 13 months in Iraq with them. The army is covering its behind in this situation, and the murderers are all still lying and trying to hide behind PTSD. Not one of them truly have this!


We thought the movie was very informative, shows what war does to the minds of our youth. Some become very violent and do things they would never think of doing, and some loose their senesces completely. I am aware that both sides do atrocities, but that does not make it right. War is hell. I say, bring back our boys so they can start to get their minds back to civilian life.


The acting and cinematography are very good, but I'm not sure the plot hangs together very well. The idea that all soldiers are turned into sociopaths by the horrors of war doesn't really fly.


I agree with the reviews that I've read so far that Tommy Lee Jones and Charize Theron do a suberb job. Susan Sarandan could have had more time on screen. What I haven't seen mentioned is the strip club scenes. Just so you are prepared there is a scene in a strip that in my opinion goes on way too long and shows too much nudity. They filmmakers could have gotten the idea across with just a passing glance at the scene. So whoever you go with, make sure you are comfortable watching lap dances with topless dancers and such before you go.

Diane Stern

This is one of the best movies I have seen in years. I was riveted from the beginning. There are no wasted moments and plenty of brilliant touches in this movie about a father's dedicated search for a son that he has been told went AWOL soon after his return from Iraq. The fact that the father is himself a former officer in the army lends an extra layer of sophistication to his attempt to understand his son's experiences in Iraq and in so doing figure out what happened to him. Amazing performances by Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon. I actually forgot that they were actors. The young soldiers and their struggles are also convincingly portrayed. We were planning on going out to dinner afterwards but were so stunned by the ending that we ended up going home and talking about it instead. This is a must see.

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