Indie Gems: Down in the Valley.


It's been far too long since I've done one of these. I've been slacking, which I do around Oscar seasons because that's all I think about.

'Down in the Valley' was a small film that was shot for about $8 million. It shows, there's not not a lot of background music or crafty shots. The film looks as if it was shot an a hand held camera, but there is nothing wrong with that. It helps this little modern day western.

Harlan (Edward Norton) is a wannabe cowboy living in the San Fernando Valley. He works at a gas station, although he doesn't have a car. He has no family or friends nearby to turn to. He meets Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood) when he fills up gas for her and her friends on their way to the beach. Tobe takes a chance and invites him to join, he quits his job and goes with her. The start of a whirlwind romance has began. Tobe is only 17, so of course her step-father Wayne (David Morse) isn't thrilled with his daughter hanging out with a man that's nearly his age. Harlan also provides friendship for Tobe's younger and anti social brother, Lonnie (Rory Culkin) Their relationship begins to progress, but then Tobe starts seeing Harlan in a different light. His secrets are slowly being revealed.

What stands out with this film is the acting. Edward Norton is top notch. His charactor's got a lot of baggage and he carries himself wonderfully throughout the film. Evan Rachel Wood is always a stand out. She's constantly one of the best performers in everything she's in and this is no different. Rory Culkin is easily the most talented of the Culkin siblings. (Keiran being 2nd)

Like I was saying before, the budget gives this film the ultimate "indie" feel. It helps the somberness of the film. The plot is interesting, but does provide a few moments where you might be scratching your head. It's a must see if you are fans of the actors.

Recommended: Yes. B- (I decided to switch to letter grades instead of star ratings..I think it might transition a little better.)

Memorable Quote: "How old are you? Ten, eleven?" "Thirteen." "Oh.." "I'll get bigger." - exchange between Harlan (Edward Norton) and Lonnie (Rory Culkin)

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