Director David Jacobsen DOWN IN THE VALLEY plays like a romantic operatic lament for the disappearing cinematic and real-life icon the American cowboy Many of the elements that would fuse say a classic John Wayne character are present in Edward Norton (PRIMAL FEAR 25TH HOUR) character Harlan Fairfax Caruthers he polite soft-spoken yet stubbornly brave and handy with Colt steel and lead While at home in Death Valley in the mid 1800s these characteristics are positively anachronistic in modern-day San Fernando Valley How else to explain the reaction of a gaggle of giggling teenagers to Harlan as he pumps their gas? One of the teens Tope (Evan Rachel Wood) is immediately attracted to these charms and invites Harlan along to the beach A whirlwind romance follows much to the chagrin of Tope (short for October) father Wade (David Morse) who senses there is more to Harlan than meets the eye Indeed things begin to unravel when Harlan lies about borrowing a horse from a local rancher that leads to a threat at gunpoint To make matters worse Harlan ingratiates himself more by spending time with Tope attention-starved younger brother Lonnie (Rory Culkin) Eventually as more of the dangerous demons beneath Harlan charming veneer reveal themselves action must be taken and justice meted out Old West-style At times tense and alternatively quiet DOWN IN THE VALLEY features some creative camera work from cinematographer Enrique Chediak that fits both moods Also be on the look-out for a scene-long quotation from TAXI DRIVER
Drama starring Edward Norton. Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood) is a pretty 18-year-old whose father, Wade (David Morse), is the sheriff of a town in California's San Fernando Valley. Tobe is driving to the beach with some friends when she stops at a filling station and meets gas jockey Harlan (Norton), who dresses like a cowpoke and claims to have recently relocated to Los Angeles from South Dakota. Harlan is immediately and obviously taken with Tobe, and when she asks him to tag along for the day, he impulsively quits his job to follow her. Tobe and Harlan soon become a couple, but Wade is convinced Harlan is not all he claims to be.
Average Rating for Down In The Valley  - 4 out of 5
(based on 1 user reviews)
Down In The Valley Kashif Ahmed
Ed Norton is excellent as troubled loner/ self-styled cowboy Harlan Crouthers, in David Jacobson's wistful, tragic romance. A metaphor for non practising Jewry's struggle to establish identity in the absence of Torah values and the mechanised, boring structure of religion when used as a conveyer belt towards geo-political dominance (e.g. internal corruption through Zionism, Talmudist Midrash, an obsession with yicchus and Phariseeism etc). 'Down In The Valley' is an undiscovered gem which thoroughly deserves a new lease of life on Blu-Ray & DVD.
Jacobson's film, despite its cinema vérité and reference heavy style, achieves a unique, and dreamlike quality which successfully evokes memories / emotions associated with the beginning of spring and thoughts of love. The relationship between Norton and Evan Rachel Wood's mature teen Tobe (which, we learn, is short for October) is subtle and realistic. I've always found Evan Rachel Wood slightly annoying, but she"s on top form here and though it may be too early for comparative accolades; Wood looks as if she"ll go on to be hailed as the new Sarah Polley. 'Down In The Valley's' supporting cast sees David Morse as Tobe's policeman stepfather, and Rory Culkin as her quiet younger brother, both actors give strong performances to complement the main Norton/Wood romance.
'Down In The Valley' is such a well-crafted, literary character study of loneliness and isolation, that one almost feels a little cheated by its eventual stride towards hi-concept genre film. Still, this is a fine picture, well written, acted & directed with believable characters and definite repeat viewing potential Recommend.
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