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Down in the Valley Reviews

Page 1 of 62
Josh L

Super Reviewer

January 15, 2010
Down in the Valley is a bit of a jumble, switching tones and genres quickly from the first to second half, but I'm still glad I watched it. The performances by all of the main actors, especially Norton, are pitch perfect and make this movie better than it probably is. The first half is the good half, building up a sweet romance that is quiet and touching, but the second half has tons of implausible moments that make this otherwise great movie a little hard to swallow. I wish the screenplay was better than it is, but it is still worth a rental based on everything else.
Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

October 29, 2009
Down in The Valley What a great film...very layered and subtle. It is beautifully shot and the four main characters are original and yet painfully familiar in their alienation, anger, and despair. The Cowboy character played by Edward Norton (who is amazing) seems so simple at first but as he is drawn into the family his character and the truth unravels in ways that left me at a stand still near the end of the film. The character played by Rory Culkin, "Twig", says very little throughout the film and yet he conveys a sense of yearning and loneliness almost too painful to bare. But even he undergoes an unexpected transformation by the end of the film. The lead is a beautiful creature on the screen. Her relationship with the Cowboy seemed unlikely at first and then became completely believable, especially in the bathtub scene. This is a film for lovers of independent film and psychological kinds of cinema. There are also several scenes that border on surrealism. This film will leave you thinking and wondering about your life
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

October 1, 2009
Destined to be a classic, this is my kind of film! Norton is brilliant in this modern day western. Highly Recommended!
Edward B

Super Reviewer

November 1, 2006
It's all over the place. The filmmaking is unfocused and too in love with itself to care about the real story behind it all. The acting isn't all that convincing either.
Eric S

Super Reviewer

May 17, 2008
Yet another brilliant performance by Edward Norton.
He portrays an innocent young man who believes he's a cowboy in the San Fernando valley. He's brought out of his low key existence by a rebellious teenage girl who just causes him problems. Norton's character, Harlan is filled with love and lives in his own little world of his choice.
A good look at how so many fail to see what's important in life, and how we should respect our fellow man.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

April 18, 2007
Not a film I had heard of previously, but one with a good storyline. It lures you into a false sense of security and then a much deeper side to the film emerges. The dvd cover says "Reminders of 1970's aces Taxi Driver and Badlands" and I see hints of both as possible influences, but the film it reminded me of was 'Fear' with Mark Wahlberg, only a much better version.

I think the beauty of this film is that most will be able to relate to at least one of the characters. My only complaint would be that the ending seemed a little stretched out.
Drew S

Super Reviewer

March 28, 2008
I'm having trouble thinking of anything I want to say about this movie. I'll give it a shot tomorrow.

TOMORROW: ...Nope. Still nothing. The movie was more interesting than this - why can't I formulate anything to say about it? I guess Edward Norton is pretty damn good as always but why are his characters always so violent? Also, I didn't know Evan Rachel Wood could act. I thought she was just kind of floating around Hollywood, being pretty.

Shady ending - especially the last minute or so. As everyone has said, it starts off stronger than it finishes. Norton really sells that love junk in the first act; it's treacle so thick that it could only come from a knight of the Ol' West, and the fact that he can make it work says something about his performance on several levels. You'd know what I mean if you saw it.

I think we need more movies like this - interesting genre-bending explorations of mental illness - but it would help if they were better.
SilentWarProductions2009
December 5, 2006
Directed by: David Jacobson.
Starring: Edward Norton, Evan Rachel Wood, David Morse, Rory Culkin.

It happens all the time, you get a film that has a quality in its first and second acts and then something throws it off in the third....Down in the Valley is no exception.

The story is set in modern day San Fernando Valley in LA, a young girl named Tobe (short for October) takes a trip to the beach with her friends and stops off at the local gas station, only to meet an out-of-place cowboy named Harlan from South Dakota. She has a sudden connection with him and invites him along and there love for each other starts to grow. When Tobe's overbearing father refuses her to see him, Harlan does what he can to get her and her little brother away from their father and we start to learn about who Harlan really is. From the first frame, I was gripped. Although it did seem to have a certain predictability about it and it does raise common themes, the film builds character and ideas with such skill. We are shown the Valley quite simply, with its 5-10 lanes on the busy roads and landing planes overhead, its a normal little American town. From here, what hit the note with me, was the characters. In the vain of 'Taxi Driver' (but of course, not as complex), we are given Harlan Curruthers. He is a cowboy, or at least, he believes he is one....what gives us that idea is that he not always there mentally and he has a strange innocence like a child who hasn't quite grown up. Themes are raised brilliantly, how someone so out of place can adapt to a different world, but also his kindness and skill adapts well right away. There is a little love story in the vain of 'Fatal Attraction' to be had, but it has that sweet innocence of any young love. There are so many qualities to these characters and ideas that are raised that I loved, that I was shocked to see the sudden change. As the third act approaches, it can't keep itself cohesive or engaging. A sudden change in tone occurs and an overpowering homage to Westerns that isn't needed (A gunfight in a small western town....thats a film set of all things) pulls it down. The acting though is another great quality. Edward Norton gives a lot of charisma to the role as he always does and a considerable amount of depth and range to this dysfunctional soul, it isn't as impressive as his earlier roles, but he still leads. Evan Rachel Wood is an impressive young actress and adapts to the changes of feeling with her character. Rory Culkin is picking up more roles by the year and is building a presence and David Morse is superb as the overbearing father, who not only tries to love his kids, but has his mind away on other things and doesn't realize how far he goes. There's an intensity and caring in David's eyes that are perfect for this role.

Down in the Valley has the vibe of such classics as 'Taxi Driver' and 'Fatal Attraction' with a tinge of western flair and it really could have been the little cousin of those films, but when director David Jacobson decides to homage westerns and shift the tone on both the film and lead character too much in the third act, its bog down the high qualities the film had going for it. I certainly give it a solid 4 stars for the first 2 acts, but the third act takes it down a notch for me. Definitely worth a watch but be prepared for the shift in tone towards the end.
magnum32004
magnum32004

Super Reviewer

October 9, 2006
A cerebral romance with wonderful performances from Ed Norton, Evan Rachel Wood, Rory Culkin, & David Morse.
Keysha H

Super Reviewer

September 1, 2007
A bit slow moving at the start, but this intense character study is well worth the watch.
Tim S

Super Reviewer

August 9, 2007
Norton puts in a much better performance than anyone nominated in 2006.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

June 10, 2007
A strange beast of a film. Mixing themes and the general feel of 'Badlands' along with the mentality of 'Apocalypse Now' and 'Taxi Driver' this bastard son of a western owes a lot to the seventies. The film has so much to offer visually, stylistically and storywise. While watching I never found it predictable, as what starts as a sweet romance turns into a tragic deranged obsession. Norton is amazing as he slips further and further into his fantasy western world. Morse is also as amazing as ever, playing a father who will do anything to protect his kids, even if it means losing their love and respect. A rare treat of a film that probably wont be seen by enough people. The Western is very much alive, but has evolved into something twisted, powerful and striking.
Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

May 16, 2007
Great performances by Norton, Wood and Culkin. I look at it as a character study of two lonely kids, Tobe and her brother Lonnie, and cowboy Harlan. Tobe meets Harlan and immediately begins a passionate with him. Several characters touched me here: Lonnie's (aka Twig) loneliness and melancholic existence, their father Wade who seemed to me just as lonely as his son and a bit lost in regards of raising his children because of the lack of a mother at his side (presumably she died or left them though the audience never knows), Tobe who feels so sheltered and whose romance with Harlan promises to be all she really needs but her father's disapproval sends her into inevitable rebellious throes, and finally Harlan who was the most fascinating character of all who I could not help but sympathize with, no matter what he did.
See it.
Christopher M

Super Reviewer

December 4, 2006
If anything can be said about this movie, it's that Edward Norton delivers one of his best performances as a delusional cowboy hopelessly stuck in modern times. If anything was especially weak I would say the plot can stretch itself a little too far at times, to the point where it is not very believable at all. It still has some good ideas though, some beautiful images, and I dug the directing for the most part.
Antony S

Super Reviewer

November 12, 2006
Rather disappointing, Norton's first real role in ages sees him starring as a deluded drifter in L.A. The story concerns itself with following said character's pursuit of an impressionable teenage girl and the intervention of her protective father. The way in which this is presented seems relatively sweet at first, but hastily descends towards the creepiness of this relationship, vastly affecting the amount of sympathy in the audience.
As mentioned nearly everywhere, the narrative style is very similar to Badlands and Taxi Driver, but instead of recalling those pictures with a similiar sense of greatness, works against it, reminding that they have indeed seen this story before, and handled better.
Though Norton clearly has an appetite for the material, his performance is notably basic compared to the stellar work he put in around the turn of the millennium, and Wood and Culkin act purely adequately. Morse, however, is the unsung hero here, playing the concerned pater familias with passion and drive, again enforcing the question of why as an audience are we automatically on the creepy cowboy's side?
Some decent comedy highlights the tale's absurdity, but overall the typical indie direction and highly-familiar story let it down somewhat.
Mouhannad S

Super Reviewer

December 9, 2010
I see so many people having a problem with the fact that the film is unrealistic.
But romantic.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

June 11, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]In "Down in the Valley", Tobe(Evan Rachel Wood) is a willful teenager living with her younger brother, Lonnie(Rory Culkin), who is afraid of the dark. Their father, Wade(David Morse), is a strict but caring corrections officer. While on their way to the beach during spring break, Tobe and her friends stop at a gas station where they encounter Harlan(Edward Norton), a modern day cowboy working there. Tobe is the only one to take him seriously and invites him along. At the cost of his job, he agrees. At the beach, they go swimming together and even before they get back, Tobe and Harlan are making out in the car...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Down in the Valley" is an interesting movie. The film does an excellent job in photographing southern California. Edward Norton is very good in giving a performance similar to the one he gave in the underrated "Death to Smoochy" a few years ago. [/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]The central conflict in the movie is between Wade and Harlan. They have some of the same interests in guns and history but Wade is a responsible family man while Harlan is not interested in responsibilities, just living a carefree life. [/font]
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

April 2, 2011
More power to the film for its refreshing premise, fine performance from Norton, of course and having Evan Rachel Wood (that actually doesn't affect the quality of the film, but it's still nice) to make an attempt at raising the film above its lack of development, unlikeable young characters, (surprise, surprise) poor soundtrack, melodrama, character behavior exaggerations, inconsistant character focus, occasional weak dialogue, lengthy sequences, forced theme and character changes, rushed ending and being dull. Still, the pros can't prevent "Down in the Valley" from remaining a very underwhelming and totally inconsistant use of potential. Man, I sure do dread griping about a movie with my man Eddy. Well, at least it's not as awkward as my opinions on "Joe Versus the Volcano" and "The Da Vinci Code". Sorry again Tom.
Mike T

Super Reviewer

March 23, 2007
In this intricate, intense drama, director/screenwriter David Jacobson melds the best traits of several genres and the result is a truly original film. Riveting, powerful, and fuelled by terrific performances all around. Edward Norton is at the top of his game here, which is saying a lot.
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