In the Valley of Elah 

Directed by Paul Haggis

Paul Haggis has become one of the most divisive filmmakers in contemporary American cinema, and sure to further that reputation is his latest, the maddeningly haunting In the Valley of Elah — a detective story encumbered by an anti-Iraq war agenda. Tommy Lee Jones stars as Hank Deerfield, a former military man who learns his son has gone AWOL after returning from Iraq. Plagued by bureaucratic mumbo jumbo and jurisdiction woes, the patriotic coot takes it upon himself to solve the case. At its best, the film coolly mixes incisive political commentary with a case so engrossing it’s tempting to whip out a notepad and jot down clues alongside Hank. At its worst, it stoops to liberal fear-mongering and weary television procedural standbys like the discovery of encrypted cell phone videos that manage to get unscrambled one by one, perfunctorily on cue to introduce plot points.

Opens September 14

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