“Those of us who weren’t crazy about Crash thought it reduced each of its dozens of characters to one small virtue and big flaw. In In The Valley of Elah, Haggis is more open to his characters’ drives and demons.

“The good guys, the ones so well played by Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon, have nuances worth noting; and even the ones capable of committing the most heinous crimes seem like decent people to whom some awful thing happened. (Special mention to Wes Chatham, who could be Matt Damon‘s younger, cuter brother, as a soldier testifying to Hank about the killing.)

“The combination of dedicated actors and a superior script helps make Elah a far more satisfying film than Crash.” — Time critic Richard Corliss in a 9.1.07 piece, “Iraq War Films Focus on Soldiers,” filed from the Venice Film Festival.