In the Valley of Elah

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In the Valley of Elah is a film written and directed by Academy Award-winning director Paul Haggis, who adapted a Playboy Magazine article written by Mark Boal. The movie stars Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon, and Jason Patrick. Jones was Oscar-nominated for his performance.


When model soldier Mike Deerfield, who recently returned to the U.S. from the front lines of Iraq, goes AWOL without a trace, his veteran father Hank (Tommy Lee Jones) begins to investigate his son's true fate.

Mikes's father is a former MP from the Vietnam era, and recruits Detective Emily Sanders (Theron) to assist him in his search for the missing soldier. While it remains to be seen whether Hank will ever find his missing son, what he does discover while getting caught up in a tangled web of intrigue, cover-ups, and murder highlights the profoundly personal tolls taken by combat while striking at the very heart of the American experience in the Iraqi conflict.

The title of the film is a reference to the historical place where David fought Goliath.


In the Valley of Elah has been hailed for its shocking depiction of the de-humanization of soldiers back from war. Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan wrote that "(it) is an honorable, earnest film that deals with a subject not usually touched by Hollywood: the pernicious effect war in general and the current one in particular has on the young people we send to fight." [1] However, Variety's Robert Koehler said that "the film ends up delivering a poorly conceived message of alarm, bluntly signaling that the war is causing America's sons and daughters severe psychological damage." [2]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film got an average rating of 71%, from 141 reviews. The consesus was that Elah is "an engrossing murder mystery and profound antiwar statement".[3]


  1. Los Angeles Times
  2. Variety
  3. Rotten Tomatoes