In the Valley of Elah Reviews

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Hank Sartin
Time Out
November 18, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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David Fear
Time Out
January 18, 2008
Full Review | Original Score: 3/6
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
September 26, 2007
This is Jones' show and he makes you feel a father's fear and loss in ways that are subtly heartbreaking, never melodramatic.
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
September 22, 2007
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
September 22, 2007
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.
| Original Score: 2/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
September 21, 2007
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
September 21, 2007
In the Valley of Elah is another in a long line of great Tommy Lee Jones performances.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Bruce Westbrook
Houston Chronicle
September 21, 2007
[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.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
September 21, 2007
There should be enough gut-troubling truth to In the Valley of Elah to make it transcend political squabbling.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
September 21, 2007
Tommy Lee Jones gives such an amazingly nuanced, judicious, soulful and selfless performance as a military man distraught over the death of his soldier son in In the Valley of Elah that one can only wish it was in a movie that had the same virtues.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
September 21, 2007
In the Valley of Elah is an endorsement of doubt, a demand for questioning, wrapped in a package anyone can buy.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
September 21, 2007
In his first solo outing since the Oscar-winning Crash, writer-director Paul Haggis falls into a familiar trap, where his lofty social theme fights its own battle against the forces of artifice and contrivance.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 21, 2007
Paul Haggis' earnest and eloquent film about the impact of the war in Iraq on U.S. soldiers, and by extension, their nation, is human-scaled. And as deep and harrowed as Jones' crevassed face.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
September 20, 2007
In the Valley of Elah rises and falls on the strength of Tommy Lee Jones' performance, which is to say that it rises to great heights, indeed.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 20, 2007
There's much to admire here: a continually surprising storyline, an aversion to cliché, a gallery of characters who are neither stock heroes nor cardboard villains, and a flawless cast.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
September 20, 2007
Elah uses a slightly plodding police procedural format as an opening to a discussion about the effect the war is having on returning soldiers. It's a lot to ask of one movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
September 20, 2007
The haunting, heart-piercing Elah isn't perfect. It's something better: essential.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
September 18, 2007
The performances are amazing here.
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Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
September 17, 2007
This is a sad, subtle and very good movie, designed not so much to make you think, but to make you feel the impact of large events on little lives.
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David Denby
New Yorker
September 17, 2007
[Jones] gives a great, selfless, and heartbreaking performance that completely dominates this elusive but powerful movie.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
September 15, 2007
This is undeniably a haunting movie. But don't let that scare you off. The ending, and all that leads up to it, will leave viewers devastated but deeply moved.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
September 15, 2007
Tommy Lee Jones is at the top of his game as a grieving fa ther determined to uncover the disturbing truth behind his soldier son's death in Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
September 15, 2007
The last scene of In the Valley of Elah may be the most ridiculously ham-fisted and over-the-top moment in all of 2007's supposed prestige cinema.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Dana Stevens
Slate
September 14, 2007
This is no doubt the first of many movies that will struggle to tell the stories of a war that's far from over, and even if the tale is imperfectly told, it commands our attention.
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John Hartl
Seattle Times
September 14, 2007
Thanks largely to the intricate, committed performances of Jones and Theron, it succeeds as an effective whodunit.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Tamara Straus
San Francisco Chronicle
September 14, 2007
Elah does have moments of slipping into political sermon, but for the most part it is an effective, disturbing and -- a rarity for Haggis -- subtle exploration of the stateside war story.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Nathan Rabin
AV Club
September 14, 2007
Haggis still has a weakness for big dramatic gestures and heavy-handed symbolism, but a somber tone and Jones' tight-lipped yet moving performance nicely undercut the tendency toward Crash-style overwrought melodrama.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
September 14, 2007
In the Valley of Elah is an almost painfully powerful drama.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
September 14, 2007
What Haggis obviously wants to explore is what the war in Iraq is doing to the humanity of our soldiers there. By approaching it indirectly, he simplifies it to a degree that I expect will anger many Iraq veterans.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
September 14, 2007
The film's sense of responsibility proves almost paralyzing, allowing the production to be overwhelmed by the seriousness of what it's attempting.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
September 14, 2007
In the Valley of Elah held me despite my many qualms. That's because the subject matter is innately powerful and resists Haggis's pigeonholing. He's latched onto something that's bigger than himself.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
September 14, 2007
Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah is built on Tommy Lee Jones' persona, and that is why it works so well.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
September 14, 2007
Paul Haggis follows up his Oscar-winning Crash with this searing drama that uses the police procedural to explore the moral and psychological devastation of the Iraq war for U.S. soldiers.
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
September 14, 2007
None of the exasperating guilt on display in Crash has made it into In the Valley of Elah, a solidly made genre movie: the Army mystery.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
September 13, 2007
Underneath the deceptively quiet surface of In the Valley of Elah is a raw, angry, earnest attempt to grasp the moral consequences of the war in Iraq.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
September 13, 2007
Haggis is an extremely talented man, and much of the film works brilliantly. But it misses the mark.
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
September 13, 2007
A lot of very good films have a distinct drop-off point, usually occasioned when the gods of character are shoved aside for the gods of plot. In the Valley of Elah is one of those very good pictures.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Jan Stuart
Newsday
September 13, 2007
In Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah, Jones' face is a poignantly detailed map of skepticism, simmering rage and, in the final count, self-recrimination.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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David Ansen
Newsweek
September 13, 2007
The considerable power of the film is contained in Jones's hard-bitten, movingly understated performance.
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
September 10, 2007
Paul Haggis's In the Valley of Elah is vital in spite of its mustiness.
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
September 10, 2007
It feels like a movie in search of prestige, not truth.
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Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
September 6, 2007
The combination of dedicated actors and a superior script helps make Elah a far more satisfying film than Crash.
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
September 5, 2007
It's the first Hollywood Iraq movie to remind me of a Vietnam film like Coming Home, and it does more than disturb. It scalds, moves, and heals.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
August 30, 2007
Another eloquent, sobering assessment of the State of the Union from the director of Crash.
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Robert Koehler
Variety
August 30, 2007
Paul Haggis'follow-up to Crash is too self-serious to work as a straight-ahead whodunit and too lacking in imagination to realize its art-film aspirations.