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In the Valley of Elah (2007)

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A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son's disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.



(screenplay), (story) | 1 more credit »
3,881 ( 283)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sgt. Dan Carnelli
Arnold Bickman
Corporal Steve Penning
Spc. Gordon Bonner
Spc. Ennis Long
Mike Deerfield
Detective Nugent
Private Robert Ortiez (as Victor Wolf)
Detective Hodge


In Monroe, Tennessee, Hank Deerfield, an aging warrior, gets a call that his son, just back from 18 months' fighting in Iraq, is missing from his base. Hank drives to Fort Rudd, New Mexico, to search. Within a day, the charred and dismembered body of his son is found on the outskirts of town. Deerfield pushes himself into the investigation, marked by jurisdictional antagonism between the Army and local police. Working mostly with a new detective, Emily Sanders, Hank seems to close in on what happened. Major smuggling? A drug deal gone awry? Credit card slips, some photographs, and video clips from Iraq may hold the key. If Hank gets to the truth, what will it tell him? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes The Truth Is Best Left Buried See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and disturbing content, language and some sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 September 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Death and Dishonor  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$133,557 (USA) (14 September 2007)


$6,777,589 (USA) (15 February 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Barry Corbin and Kathy Lamkin also starred in No Country for Old Men (2007) the same year. The two movies both have Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA as shooting location and Roger Deakins as director of photography. See more »


Hank, a truck driver, reads an email discussing a "weigh bill." The proper term is "waybill." See more »


[first lines]
Spc. Gordon Bonner: What are you doing? Get back in the fucking vehicle man! Mike, get back in the fucking vehicle. Let's go, Mike, now!
See more »


Referenced in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #20.148 (2012) See more »


Written by Robin Davey and Jesse Davey
Performed by The Davey Brothers
Courtesy of The Davey Brothers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Surprisingly Poetic and Not Very Political.
30 September 2007 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

This movie is just about perfect. I love how it starts as a genre movie and then transcends into something deeper and soul-searching. Some people just don't like Paul Haggis, but I'm not one of them. I think he's very smart here; he has no political point of view, he handles Charlize Theron perfectly, and the movie forces everybody to think about the troops in a way that isn't simply political rhetoric. I love that Tommy Lee Jones feels the way so many dads do. He's never been better. Watching the police work happen is interesting on it's own, but I like that Charlize Theron is just out to do the job correctly and just shrugs off the chauvinism coming at her from her department. The movie could've gone somewhere with that, but instead just quietly lets us in on it and moves on.

There have been many very good movies the last few years about Iraq-related themes, but I don't think there is a film that captures the feeling of the national mood as good as this one. It's drained of melodrama and just sort of moves forward on really good performances of the whole cast, who all act according to their natures instead of because of stupid plot requirements.

164 of 210 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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