elah

I need to know something. Can you pick up the check?

Director: Paul Haggis

Writer: Paul Haggis, Mark Boal

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron

A largely quiet meditation on the fractured nature of perception. Army vet Jones’s son goes AWOL upon returning home from Iraq and Jones takes it upon himself to investigate, with the help of taciturn police detective Theron. (These two together don’t produce heat, just the opposite; their lived-in resignation in the face of inalterable truth puts the entire film under a cloud.) There is something wonderful, if not novelistic, in the movie’s march toward its conclusion, one that refuses to tie anything up neatly, but has much to say about pressures soliders face. Jones knows more about himself, his son, and his country by the end of the movie. But to him, there isn’t much reassurance there.

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