In the Valley of Elah

Finally I got curious enough to take a look at the film, – In the Valley of Elah -which here in Germany gets fairly good critics, but is said to have bumped in US and UK.
First of all .. it is a film definitly worth seeing – not at least due to his main character Tommy Lee Jones, but as well to some twists in the plot and narration. What at times seems (and also in its camera shots) like a basic ‘Law & Order’ criminal investigation set-up, has at other points it’s turns into a serious research of a national trauma.
Nevertheless as the tagline of imdb sums it up most concisely – Sometimes finding the truth is easier than facing it. – the film misses some final consequence to become a real psychic diagram of a disturbed nation’s soul. But it is still strong enough to transmit plausibly the symbolic sign of the star spangled banner flagged upside down to indicate emergency.
The film, loosely based on real events from 2003, follows the veteran and loner Hank Deerfield on the search for his son, who is missing a few days after his return from Iraq. His conviction of the ‘rightful war’ gets shattered while the events unfold, mainly represented by the accompanying deciphering of his son’s mobile phone videos through a specialist, which he gets sent digitally in pixelated portions.

It’s the facing of the truth, that emotional derangement evolving from overrunning their fears (and hopes – literally in form of an Iraqi child) turns the nation’s sons, sent to this war, into creatures, which have lost any access to their own, and thus any other’s vulnerability.
Though critics, who said that the ‘film just tells, what we anyway know’ might be right, at least it tells that – and becomes interesting by telling it from conservative point of view.

The unwanted truth gets addressed through, and at the same time explains the heavily depressive impact of the film’s images. They build the route of transport for this painful journey to the story’s raw kernel of facing the delusion. Nevertheless the real story sits much deeper than these clean images can tell, and thus more likely find it’s equivalent in blurred and broken video images and the landscape of Tommy Lee Jones’ face. They are the protagonists (and eventually some viewers) guide to become able for at least assuming the origin and horror of the evolving traumatic nightmares.

It’s a statement of emergency .. and that is quite worth to be seen.

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