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DVD Review: “In The Valley of Elah”

Mike Deerfield returns to the U.S. after his tour of duty in Iraq and abruptly goes missing. His father Hank (Jones), a spit-and-polish ex-MP from the Vietnam era, goes looking for him. What he finds goes to the heart of American combat experiences in the Iraqi conflict.

In The Valley of Elah

Official Site Link:

Available To Own On (click to purchase): DVD, Blu-ray Hi-Def, HD DVD and On Demand.

Release Date: February 19, 2008 (DVD/Blu-ray Hi-Def/On Demand), March 11, 2008 (HD DVD)

In the Valley of Elah takes on a slightly different approach than most wartime movies, choosing to focus its attention on the soldiers sent into armed conflict. In The Valley of Elah centers around Mike Deerfield (Jones) who embarks on a quest to discover what happened to his son who went missing upon returning from his tour of duty in Iraq.

Jones’ work in the movie, of which he received an Academy Award nomination, and deservedly so, is phenomenal as he wades through the evidence coming to grips with how the events surrounding his son’s disappearance came to be.

There’s one scene in the film that particularly stood out to me, and it involves Jones’ character recollecting a memory of a phone conversation he had with his son in Iraq. Tiny bits of the situation surrounding that phone call are interspersed throughout the movie, all building to a fully constructed understanding of the event. It’s in that moment that Jones’ character realizes what the words that his son spoke in that conversation (“Something happened, Dad”) truly meant. Jones shines here.

The DVD has a better than expected audio/video experience, and on the supplement side we are treated to a two-part documentary that explores the news story that inspired the film, and offers a glimpse into real life stories from soldiers who’ve returned from the war. It’s an insightful feature and well worth the watch. The other additional feature is a collection of deleted scenes.

Some may be immediately turned off by the subject material, but In The Valley of Elah really is a good film, and well worth a purchase, or at least a rental.

Grade: 4/5