Down in the Valley - DVD

Following the recent trend for modern-day westerns (think "Brokeback Mountain" and "Three Burials") Ed Norton’s latest is a cowboy drama set in the suburban sprawl of today’s San Fernando Valley.

When high school student Tobe (Wood) meets a charming drifter named Harlan Fairfax Carruthers (Norton complete with ill-advised handlebar tash) she is instantly attracted to his old-fashioned manners and refreshing outlook on life.

As their relationship progresses however, Tobe’s father (Morse), a no non-sense prison warder, begins to see through Harlan’s act and orders him to stop seeing his daughter. This unwelcome news then triggers an ugly mental disintegration in Harlan that leads to an inevitably bloody finale.

Meandering aimlessly, much like Harlan, the script is full of poetic musings like "I just want to step out of my heart, sit under the stars and talk with my true voice" or "the sea is about as close to forever as I can imagine" that begin to grate despite some first class acting from the uniformally excellent cast.

Norton is particulalry impressive - in a turn not dissimilar to his "Fight Club" role – as the seemingly mild-mannered dreamer with a dangerous streak lurking beneath the surface.

This beautifully shot film also raises some interesting questions about what effects movie myths can have on impressionable minds, but the contrived ending and the script’s unwelcome tendency to drift mean "DITV" is definitely not essential viewing.

Verdict

Reminiscent of 70s independents such as "Badlands" and "Taxi Driver" this nihilistic modern-day cowboy story will certainly not be to everyone’s taste.

Rating: 15
Staring: Edward Norton Evan Rachel Wood David Morse" Bruce Dern, Rory Culkin
Directed by: David Jacobson
Extras: None


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