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In the Valley of Elah | 2007 | R | - 8.8.7

Tommy Lee Jones receives a call late one night informing him that his son who was a soldier in Iraq has returned stateside but has gone AWOL. Not even knowing that his son has returned, he begins to unravel secrets and half-truths that lead him to discover the psychological damage that is done to young people when they are thrown into a war environment. Also with Charlize Theron, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon and Jonathan Tucker. Directed by Paul Haggis. [2:00]

SEX/NUDITY 8 - Two women dance around poles in an exotic dance club: they are topless and wear thong panties (bare breasts, abdomens, buttocks and legs are visible), we see one dancer performing a lap dance on a man (bare breasts are visible), and another rubs her bare breasts on a man's face; another exotic dance scene shows topless women (their bare breasts are visible) wearing thongs and dancing around poles.
 A topless woman (her bare breasts and back are visible) stands in front of a man while serving him food at a bar (he does not look at her breasts). Several men shower and their bare buttocks are visible. We see posters of women on a wall, and one shows bare breasts and the other bare buttocks and back. A woman wears a low-cut dress that reveals cleavage.
 A husband and wife kiss in a few scenes.
 A young man talks about finding a prostitute who performed oral sex on four young men. The name of a bar is "Pussy's" and a sign reads "Cold Beer, Hot Girls." A man accuses a woman of sleeping with her boss to get her detective position. A man says "don't get shot wearing a pair of pantyhose."


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VIOLENCE/GORE 8 - We see charred, bloody and torn up body parts in several scenes -- in a field and again on a morgue examination table, while a man (the father of a victim) is identifying the body (facial features are difficult to make out and tissue has been pulled away by animals).
 A woman lies dead in a tub after having been drowned by her husband (her skin is grey-blue). We see a dead body on a stretcher (the skin is grey tinged) with a stretch mark around his neck (we are told that he hung himself). We see photos of charred and severed body parts in a few scenes and we see photos of dead bodies (with blue tinged skin and severed heads).
 We see several short videos of military operations in Iraq: we see explosions, we hear explosions, we see acts of torture (a young man presses on a prisoner's wounds and we hear him screaming) and a murder (a young boy is run over in a road by a military vehicle while trying to retrieve his soccer ball and we hear a thud and see the lifeless body in the road). A woman (the mother of a victim) looks through a window at the remains of her son.
 Armed police surround a house, they break in a door, the suspect climbs on the roof and runs away chased by two police officers, he runs in a street, and a man in a truck drives up behind him and strikes him with the open door of the truck; the suspect falls to the ground, the man stops the truck and beats the suspect repeatedly with a club in the face (we see his face bloody and bruised later) and a police officer is accidentally struck in the face (we see a very bloody nose, and then a bruised nose and black eyes later).
 A young man lunges at a woman and they argue. A wife yells at and blames her husband for the death of their two sons in the armed services.
 We see several prisoners bound, on their knees and with bags over their heads. A man cuts himself shaving and a drop of blood drips onto his placemat in a restaurant later.
 A young man talks about an intense argument between several people and that one was stabbed and then dismembered. We hear that a young man was killed by multiple (42) stab wounds. A frightened young woman talks about her husband having killed their dog by drowning it in the bathtub while the children watched. A young soldier says that, "we should just nuke it and watch it all turn back to dust" about Iraq. A man talks about his eldest son having died in a helicopter crash 10 years earlier. We hear that "body parts" have been found in a field. We hear that there are standing orders to not stop if something gets in the way of a military vehicle in Iraq that the vehicle should keep driving. We hear the voice of a young man yelling for another young man to "get back in the vehicle." People talk about gang violence and drug related violence. A young man explains that another young man is so committed that he showed up for roll call with his collarbone sticking through his skin.
 Men are condescending and dismissive toward a fellow police officer that is female. A man is arrested for torturing chickens by poking their eyes out.


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LANGUAGE 7 - 27 F-words, 2 obscene hand gestures, 14 scatological terms, 8 anatomical terms (2 mild), 14 mild obscenities, 4 derogatory terms for Hispanics, name-calling (stupid, idiot), 9 religious exclamations.


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SUBSTANCE USE - A young man talks about another young man who wants to buy meth. A man and a young man drink shots of alcohol from paper cups, people are shown drinking alcohol in several bar scenes, and a young man talks about going to a bar with friends and drinking heavily. Two men smoke cigarettes.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - War, war trauma, illegal drugs, violence, trust, desperation, suicide, murder, torture, guilt, blame, grief, death of children, lying, keeping secrets, coping with the brutality of war, standards for military service, David and Goliath, fighting your fears, AWOL.

MESSAGE - The atrocities of war can ruin people.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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