In the Valley of Elah (US, 2007)

The number of ‘Iraq’ films coming out of Hollywood is quite astonishing, especially as only the gung-ho Green Berets was produced during the Vietnam war. Unsurprisingly these are not doing well at the box office; even the action based The Kingdom. There are not many nations that would queue up to see themselves criticised. However, it is crucially important that a mirror is held up to America as they tromp thoughtlessly about the world. And the fact that these are American films does show that many in America are not insensitive to the destruction wreaked by their military.

Whilst Charley Wilson’s War was confused, Elah knows exactly what’s it’s saying and I can think of few films that have such a devastating final shot. The rest of it is great too; brilliantly performances and generally well paced. My only criticism is that Vietnam is, via Lee Jones’ vet, held up as something honourable; or maybe that’s just in contrast with Iraq.

I thought Crash, Haggis’ previous film as director, was great; this may be even better.

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