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Is 'In the Valley of Elah' 'powerful' or 'lacking in imagination'?

August 31, 2007 |  9:29 pm

A major new flick by Paul Haggis, the writer/director of one Oscar best picture champ ("Crash") and writer of another ("Million Dollar Baby"), is huge news to Oscarwatchers like us. But is "In the Valley of Elah" another masterpiece or a dud? Hollywood Reporter loves it. Variety blasts it.


First, the Hollywood Reporter: "Paul Haggis has not only avoided the dreaded sophomore slump, but the director and co-writer of the Oscar-winning "Crash" has returned with another bona-fide contender.

"Ostensibly a murder-mystery set against the backdrop of the war in Iraq, 'In the Valley of Elah' is a deeply reflective, quietly powerful work that is as timely as it is moving.

"Further graced by an exceptional Tommy Lee Jones lead performance that would have to be considered one of the finest in the 60-year-old actor's career, the Warner Independent release is getting a little preliminary festival exposure at Venice and Toronto before opening in limited engagements on Sept. 14." READ MORE

Variety disagrees: "The Iraq war has proven as nettlesome to Hollywood moviemakers as it has to Washington policymakers, and 'In the Valley of Elah' continues the trend. Working overtime to be an important statement on domestic dissatisfaction with the war and the special price paid by vets and their families, Paul Haggis' follow-up to 'Crash' is too self-serious to work as a straight-ahead whodunit and too lacking in imagination to realize its art-film aspirations. Lightning probably won't strike twice for Haggis, with prestigious fall festival premieres unlikely to translate into strong domestic cash flow for Warner Independent, though foreign returns could be brighter." READ MORE

(Photo: Warner Independent)