In the Valley of Elah

Paul Haggis

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? (Source: IMDb)

When Hank Deerfield is told by the military that his son Mike, who only recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, has gone AWOL he travels to the military base to see if he can make any sense of the young man's disappearance. Hank is himself a retired military investigator and is frustrated by both the military and the civilian police's apparent lack of interest in the case. In the end he does manage to get help from Det. Emily Sanders and together they piece together the events that led to Mike's disappearance. In the end, this is a story of how war dehumanizes individuals to the point where the taking of life makes no sense and has no purpose (Source: IMDb)

In 2004, in Munro, Tennessee, the former Sergeant and owner of a tow truck Hank Deerfield tries to contact his son Mike in Fort Rudd after a period serving in Iraq. However, he is informed that his son is missing in the base and has become Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL). Hank drives to the base to search his son and after an interview with the military staff, he is not convinced of the answers; then he goes to the police precinct telling that Mike is a missing person. However, the jurisdictional conflict between the Army and the police associated to a lack of interest in the case leaves Hank in limbo. Detective Emily Sanders feels sympathy for Hank and together they investigated and discover dirty little secrets with an impressive case of dehumanization caused by the invasion and consequent war in Iraq. (Source: IMDb)


Paul Haggis
United States
121 minutes
health, illness, addiction, medical ethics, torture, war & armed conflict