Since re-subscribing to Netflix with the “three at a time” option, we’ve been watching a lot of movies. And because I have to severely limit the chick flicks, I find myself leaning toward two genres: war movies, and thrillers. The interesting thing is that films about war now make my husband very uncomfortable; in fact, he refused to watch one film centered around the war in Iraq. I have to admit that I find myself viewing these films from a more emotional or empathic place. Even World War II films have the power to evoke some kind of cinematic bond between me and the mothers of celluloid soldiers.
So it was with some uncertainty that I popped in a DVD last night of the film In the Valley of Elah, which stars Tommy Lee Jones as the father of a modern day soldier just back from Iraq, and Charlize Theron as a policewoman who helps investigate the son’s disappearance and death.
One of the critical reviews of the movie at Netflix stated that the movie “centers around Tommy Lee Jones’ persona, and that’s why it works.” I found that to be very true, because Tommy Lee Jones appears to me to be someone who has suffered greatly. His face looks like it should belong to a farmer from Nebraska instead of an actor…or even to a man who sacrificed himself and the lives of his two sons in service to his Country.
It’s easy to see the anti-Iraq war sentiment. But what is really remarkable about the film is the very true portrayal of the effect of the war on young men. The attitudes, the words, the laughter over things I would consider sickeningly morbid are things I’ve witnessed myself when visiting with my son and his Army buddies. It’s their way of coping with the reality of the things they have seen and the friends they have lost.
Anyway, great film, and if you’re a Tommy Lee Jones fan, a must-see. It made getting this new photo from my son tonight, very poignant.