Down in the Valley

Rated NR

This is a very sad and well-acted film—that’s also poorly edited and terribly unoriginal—about a disturbed man and his love for a young girl. The cast features Ed Norton and David Morse, two of the best actors in the film biz. Norton plays Harlan, who thinks he’s a cowboy, and who falls in love with Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood), a 17-year-old girl who doesn’t understand that 35-year-old men who date teenagers are generally not savory characters. Her father (Morse) does get this, and some violence, weirdness and gunplay ensues. There are some very nice moments, and the film gets markedly better as it goes on, but its first hour is overly standard and poorly paced. It’s an odd film in that there’s not only no one to root for; there’s also no possible positive outcome. If only writer/director David Jacobson’s daring and sense of character were paired with economy and freshness, this would have been an excellent film. As it is, it’s just OK.

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