Tommy Lee

Tommy Lee Jones has hit a goldmine of great parts in the last few years, primarily focused around playing men in the twilight of their working years who are increasingly confused by the changing world around them. See Three Burials… and No Country For Old Men as examples of this and then add In The Valley of Elah to that list.

With names like Paul Haggis, TLJ, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon attached to the film it would be hard to disappoint and luckily it doesn’t. LJ plays the father of a young soldier who returns from Iraq only to go AWOL and then turn up dead, abandoned by the side of a road. What follows is a slow, thoughtful investigation into what happened.

The film is certainly heavy handed with its message (the final scene in particular feels like Haggis is hammering the point into my head, worried that I won’t have understood the preceding two hours) but the performances by all are terrific. The final confession was especially chilling as the culprits eyes seem to swim in and out of focus as he changes between topics of conversation. It’ll make sense if you watch it.

Watching modern films I constantly find myself wondering who are going to be the elder statesmen and women in twenty years time. If I wasn’t sure of it before, then I know now that Charlize Theron will be there. What cemented it for me was a scene involving two other actors, Jones and Sarandon, in which I could easily picture an older Theron being substituted in.

Very highly recommended, and then go and watch Haggis’s tv series The Black Donnellys. He’s reused Jonathan Tucker from that show in this film and is definitely an actor I’ll keep one eye out for.