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Elah’t to Write Home About

As many may recall, the movie Crash won for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay a couple of years back. Some people, including myself, didn’t agree with the accolades and praise for the film or for Haggis. 

Then he wrote Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers and Casino Royale, but I just can’t get over Crash. Why is that? Crash wasn’t awful. The problem was that it wasn’t Capote, Munich or Good Night and Good Luck (I left out Brokeback because I honestly didn’t care for that film either). It was just an alright movie that came out that year. And now, seven films and a couple years later, Haggis has created the movie that Crash should have been. 

 

 In the Valley of Elah tells the story of a veteran father (Jones) trying to locate his son who has recently returned home from Iraq.  While his boy was initially thought to have gone AWOL, his chopped up/burned remains are soon found and a can of bloody worms is opened. That’s really all I can tell you.  

There’s no country for Tommy Lee Jones.  

When I first saw No Country for Old Men I wanted Jones to be nominated. When he wasn’t I couldn’t understand why. It still kind of baffles me actually. Anywho, his nod for best actor in IVE was more than warranted. He was wonderful. The clip they played for the Oscars doesn’t do his performance justice. The moment they should have used has him sitting near a child’s bed retelling the story of David, Goliath and the Valley of Elah. His face is worn and he’s speaking in that tone only he can reach—a tone of age, weakened insides and battered outsides, anger, depression and wisdom. He tells this child the story as if it was a passing thought, and yet so much of the film relies on its meaning. It’s a gorgeous moment. Oh man, just thinking about it… 

I don’t know what it is, maybe he’s like quality cheese or fine wine, but Jones seems to get better with age. Honestly, he’s an extraordinary actor with sad eyes and a great vibe. 

When you watch the film (you should) you’re going to see a bunch of familiar faces from No Country. In fact, you could make various connections to the two movies with little trouble. For example, in both films Jones has passed the torch to a different type of man. The world is darker now. He is coming to terms with it. He’s discovering new evils, new enemies and stranger days ahead.  

As the credits roll you are shown a single photograph with the words “FOR THE CHILDREN” written below. But, beneath that you could also insert “FOR THE PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T LIKE CRASH,” “FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE WORRIED,” and “FOR A COUNTRY IN DISTRESS.”

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