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In the Valley of Elah (2007)



Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 158
Fresh: 115 | Rotten: 43

Though some of Paul Haggis's themes are heavy-handed, In the Valley of Elah is otherwise an engrossing murder mystery and antiwar statement, featuring a mesmerizing performance from Tommy Lee Jones.


Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 13

Though some of Paul Haggis's themes are heavy-handed, In the Valley of Elah is otherwise an engrossing murder mystery and antiwar statement, featuring a mesmerizing performance from Tommy Lee Jones.



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 28,666

My Rating

Movie Info

When a model soldier who recently returned to the U.S. from the front lines of Iraq goes AWOL, his veteran father enlists the aid of a dedicated police detective in seeking out his son's true fate in director/screenwriter Paul Haggis' follow up to the Oscar-winning 2004 indie-hit Crash. Mike Deerfield (Jonathan Tucker) has served his country faithfully, and now the time has come for him to return home to the United States. Shortly after returning, however, Mike simply vanishes without a trace.



Paul Haggis

Feb 19, 2008


Warner Independent Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (164) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (115) | Rotten (43) | DVD (24)

This is Jones' show and he makes you feel a father's fear and loss in ways that are subtly heartbreaking, never melodramatic.

September 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie isn't nearly as obvious or redundant as writer-director Paul Haggis's previous film, the Oscar-winning Crash, but it still feels like the work of someone trying too hard to enlighten you.

September 22, 2007
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The failure to avoid pat answers and cheap grandstanding dogs Haggis here as surely as it did in the overrated Crash, and robs In the Valley of Elah of much of its power.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Comment (1)
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In the Valley of Elah is another in a long line of great Tommy Lee Jones performances.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Haggis'] self-serious tone becomes wearisome, and he fails to explore how the military failed its men while clumsily laying a guilt trip at its feet.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There should be enough gut-troubling truth to In the Valley of Elah to make it transcend political squabbling.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a testament to "Elah's" stoicism that the heartbreak at how dishonesty undoes decades of dignity pierces without ever patronizing. It's an unforgettable, angry film that understands several simple thank-yous can trump eruptive, emotive speeches.

September 24, 2010 Full Review Source:

Condescending liberal dreck like In the Valley of Elah is just as awful as a thousand Fox-News commentators

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion | Comments (3)

In the Valley of Elah is a powerful, emotional indictment of what contemporary war can do to young men. It is a potent moral tale. This is not your father's war.

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Fayetteville Free Weekly
Fayetteville Free Weekly

Jones's performance is quiet, intense, and stunning.

August 25, 2008 Full Review Source:

Un drama detectivesco conmovedor que termina siendo un alegato contra la guerra más contundente que cualquier discurso pacifista.

June 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Regardless of which side of the political fence one sits on, 'In the Valley of Elah''s power can't be denied and the strong acting must be appreciated.

March 3, 2008 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

It's a quality film, but all the truly emotional moments come from watching and listening to the soldiers, which doesn't really happen until the very end.

March 3, 2008 Full Review Source: The Scorecard Review
The Scorecard Review

It is extraordinary that a film this muted could resonate with a message this strong.

February 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Colorado Springs Gazette
Colorado Springs Gazette

This is a beautiful film hiding the terrible truth that is the horror of war.

February 27, 2008 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

[Jones] makes the father's pride, determination, stubbornness, patriotism, and love extremely, utterly believable, sympathetic, and involving.

February 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Will hopefully be appreciated years from now when the Iraq war is looked upon by many as a war that revealed to its citizens what America has truly become...

February 23, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

It's Tommy Lee Jones' film: he produces a stiff ex-soldier whose clipped speech and manner hide a seething mass of apprehension and guilt.

February 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

...a good mystery, with some thought-provoking observations on the effects of war on the hearts and minds of its participants.

February 15, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Where Lions For Lambs stumbled, Haggis' latest succeeds in putting dramatic form to the disquiet over US policy. Tommy Lee Jones' performance, meanwhile, is impressive enough to make him a decent bet in this year's Oscar race.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A sombre condemnation of US foreign policy, wrapped in an absorbing whodunit.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

Jones' Oscar-nominated performance is impeccably judged. His low-key turn as a man forced to question everything from the kind of father he was to the nature of the country he fought for could be the contender to give Daniel Day-Lewis a run for his money.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

A powerful, imperfect drama let down by the playground polemic of a country still sending its children to be slaughtered overseas.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Powerful, downbeat drama with an anti-war message.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: BBC

Tense, powerful and considerably less crass than Crash, Elah may be jammed with ideas that don't all connect, but Jones' devastating performance makes this a compassionate and very human look at the Iraq conflict.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

While you sometimes feel its length, stick with it--its in its layers that the movie comes alive.

December 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Audience Reviews for In the Valley of Elah

July 27, 2008

Super Reviewer

A fairly decent film with a great performance from Theron, however I just wasn't too bothered about what happened. I couldn't really empathise with Hank as much as I would have liked and was just waiting for it to be over really. I didn't feel there was much mystery and it just didn't affect me.
May 23, 2012

Super Reviewer

A brutally honest depiction of the War and the effect it can have on young soldiers. I hated Paul Haggis's Crash, I thought it was overrated and contrived, but In the Valley of Elah is astonishingly good. I was going to say it took guts to make, I saw going to go as far as saying it's pretty unpatriotic too but Haggis is Canadian, so it's not, but the fact it did so well in America can only conclude that people are starting to look at the war in a different way. Either that or everyone has missed the point. Making and releasing a film in the same country that you hang the flag upside-down of could be seen as the highest of insults. Haggis's is saying, America is sick and in crisis. The last 15 minutes of the film our so powerful, I'm not sure why it hasn't been praised more highly, I can only imagine it's due to the delicate subject matter but again, it's a subject that needed to be addressed. An unexpected example of brilliant film-making - if it had been made during the Vietnam war it would be now regarded as a classic and Haggis would have been shot! I think the people who have stated that it is a slow story with not enough action have missed the point somewhat.
December 12, 2011

Super Reviewer

In the Valley of Elah is powerful drama film. Directed by Crash director Paul Haggis, In the Valley of Elah is a stunning drama film with a great cast of talented actors. Haggis has directed yet another fine film. After his son goes AWOL, Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to find out what happened. A determined detective (Theron) is on the case to find out what happened. In the Valley of Elah is a solid drama film with a great cast and brilliant directing from Paul Haggis. Aside from Crash, Haggis yet again shows the audience how talented a director he is, and I have to say, In the Valley of Elah is a film worth seeing, and the performances and story make this film worth watching. Tommy Lee Jones is very convincing in the part he plays, and he steals the show. Jones is a phenomenal talent of an actor, and he was very well cast in the part he played here. I very much loved his performance. If you love Paul Haggis' work, then definitely check out In the Valley of Elah, this is a powerful film that has some terrific performances, and is a definite must see. Haggis' plot unfolds very well, steadily developing the drama, and making you more interested in the story. I very much enjoyed the film thought it had a brilliant story and cast, and if you're looking for a memorable drama film, then this film is for you. Paul Haggis has made another memorable film worth watching, and with a cast like this, you really can't pass up on this one.
December 5, 2011
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Movies Like In the Valley of Elah

    1. Joan Deerfield: You don't have any children, do you?
    – Submitted by Frances H (15 months ago)
    1. Joan Deerfield: Is that everything? Is that all of him?
    – Submitted by Frances H (15 months ago)
    1. Joan Deerfield: Both of my boys gone. You could have left me one!
    – Submitted by Frances H (15 months ago)
    1. Sgt. Dan Carnelli: My son has spent the last eighteen months bringing democracy to a shit hole and serving his country. He deserves better than this!
    – Submitted by Frances H (15 months ago)
    1. Sgt. Dan Carnelli: You think I could talk to somebody who does more than answer the phone?
    – Submitted by Frances H (15 months ago)
View all quotes (5)

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February 18, 2008:
RT on DVD: Cram For The Oscars With Michael Clayton, In The Valley of Elah, And More Out This Week
Ready those Oscar ballots! With the Academy Awards around the corner, it's time to start catching up...
January 24, 2008:
Director Paul Haggis on In the Valley of Elah: The RT Interview
We sit down with the Crash director and Bond scribe to find out more about his political latest, In...
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Amy Ryan and Greg Kinnear Join Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon in the Green Zone
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Foreign Titles

  • Im Tal von Elah (DE)
  • Dans la vallée d'Elah (FR)
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