Make no mistake about it; your view of the Iraq War will likely determine how you feel about this film.
In a word, this film is moving. Few non-documentary films have been so impactual. Personally, this film gave me a renewed compassion for those soldiers who are sent to war.
While this film does have its messages, it's not necessarily beating its chest trying to be an anti-war film. It is much more about the reality of what happens to many soldiers when they come home and the damaging, emotional effects that war has on these people. You often don't hear about the broken homes and forever-changed lives of these folks. This is a film that shines a light on this dark secret that doesn't get splashed on the front pages of newspapers or covered on the cable news networks.
The acting by Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron is nothing short of supurb. They are the heart and soul of this film.
The story is gripping and keeps you guessing until the end. Without giving away anything, I have to say that when you find out what actually happened, it felt a little anti-climatic at first. On the surface, it seemed a bit too simplistic and understated, but that is exactly what ends up blowing your mind once you take a moment to really digest what happened and why it happened.
There is no doubt that the final scene will be jeered by war supporters, but the anti-war crowd will likely feel a raucous applause within themselves. It's probably the single most powerful scene, but also the most divisive scene as well
I truly believe this is a love-it-or-hate-it film. Those against this war will have a hard time watching this movie objectively. Those who oppose this war are really the only folks who will be able to make a proper judgement on the quality of this film.
Me? I think "In The Valley of Elah" is a touching and powerful film that I highly recommend to those who are not war supporters.