January 26th, 2008

I went to see 'In the Valley of Elah.'

I went to see 'In the Valley of Elah,' with Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon yesterday.

In the film, Jones, a former army military policeman, goes looking for his son who went AWOL after returning from a tour in Iraq. Soon after he arrives, however, his son turns up dead and he pushes the MPs and local detectives (who seem to be more interested in turf wars than their jobs) to find out what was really going on and who killed his son.

As the investigation goes on, we learn more about the son, his relationship to his father, what the army is expected to do in Iraq and the effects of the sort of war that is occurring there on the soldiers who return.

It's a really depressing film. Well enough made, but I left the film wondering what the point of making it was. If they wanted to emphasize how wars change people, my reaction would be 'Well d'uh, thanks for that.' If it was a polemical piece against the war, did we need it?

The film works better as a sort of examination of how life in families evolve and the fact that parents rarely experience the same things as their children (even parents in the same profession), but beyond that it left me feeling cold.