Posts Tagged ‘susan sarandon’

Movie Review: In The Valley Of Elah

May 21, 2008

Based on true events, a young soldier returns from a tour in Iraq and disappears. His worried parents (Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon) begin their own investigation and enlist the help of police detective Charlize Theron to untangle the briar patch of military silence. The film borrows heavily from the legend of David and Goliath as Jones takes on the closed structure of army bureaucracy while Theron fights her way through a hateful, sexist work environment.

Truly excellent performances meld with a bleak production design amid shades of olive drab and gunmetal gray to form a wonderful portrait of a family in crisis and the search for truth. Jones’ military dad is onscreen magic, at once mesmerizing and complex, clinging to the rituals oof discipline while undergoing a raucous disillusionment. In a supporting role, Sarandon delivers the realistic mother so lacking from films: vulnerable, tough as nails, moody, dissatisfied, supportive. Theron wisely slips into the second fiddle role and lets Jones drive, but she’s still very good as the kicked-around single-mother still clinging to a few shredded ideals.

My favorite aspect of this movie however was its visionary Coen-like style: stuck in the 70s, faded, and real, what homes/offices/people actually look like. Occasionally predictable, always focused on the costs of war on the soldiers and their families, In The Valley Of Elah is a great character study on an important timely topic. Grade: B+