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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Tobe is a bored, rebellious teenager living with her younger brother Lonnie. When she hooks up with a much older drifter, Harlan (Edward Norton), her father Wade naturally objects. What I can't work out is why the question never arises as to what happened to the mother. Lonnie calls Wade by his name and the lack of closeness or affection between all three family members might be explained by the mother of the children divorcing their father, marrying Wade and then dying, leaving him to bring them up - and bringing women back to the house overnight.

Harlan seems too good to be true, and his swift, all too sweet romance with Tobe descends into threat and we see him as he is - penniless and feckless. In fact he is more than that, he is dangerously unhinged. There were snatches of dialogue I missed, but obviously he is NOT a cowboy, but possibly worked on a cowboy film set, as when he goes missing taking Lonnie with him, Wade in hot pursuit knows exactly where to find him.

Harlan in his needy, pathetic air reminded me of Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy. But Harlan is only a cowboy in his fantasies, and Wade is NOT, as some have stated, the sheriff. He's not doing a good job as a father and his aggression towards Tobe, though a result of his frustration at his inability to control her, could explain her promiscuity and attraction to the danger and unpredictability of Harlan.

The film is brilliantly acted, but there are certain weird aspects to the film - the sudden switches of pace, the unexplained (why doesn't anyone wonder where Lonnie is when Tobe is in hospital, why does Harlan suddenly sprout a massive moustache overnight, what is his relationship to the Jewish family he steals from?)
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on 15 May 2008
A unique movie very much worth seeing for its exploration of alienation and dehumanisation of the individual in the modern western world. However, not in a bleak or pesimistic way, but tender and touching; tense and thrilling at times; controvertial until the end.
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on 19 May 2009
Norton plays what I guess could be called the last cowboy in this effective, engaging and thoughtful drama set in the LA valley.
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on 10 March 2007
Annoyingly, Edward Norton hasn't made many films recently and I was waiting a long time to see this. Thanks largely to good performances from Edward Norton and the very busy Evan Rachel Wood this is an entertaining enough movie. It will pass the time amicably enough, but I feel the script could have been stronger.

The film teeters near the edge of a fish-out-of-water comedy/melodrama as we have a cowboy out of place in L.A. Then it comes close to being a much sinister and darker film. It never can quite make up it's mind what it wants to be. Also, you have no idea what is motivating the main character to do what he does in the final third of the film. He may be a little unstable and a little strange, but, as a non-mainstream, character-driven film, you would expect a little more character study and some insight into his actions.

As in `Primal Fear', Norton displays his acting range by switching from an innocent, out-of-place guy to a threatening menace, but the director (who also wrote the film) cannot commit to either side of the character. He flirts with the idea of Norton as an innocent and as a menace, but never takes the story fully in that direction.

It is good, however, to see two great actors of our generation - Norton and Wood - in the same film together. And all in all it is a solid, entertaining film.
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on 29 July 2008
I came across this movie from a trailer on another DVD. A cowboy lost in the city scenario intrigued me. And I wasn't too disappointed.

Ed Norton is fantastic and the dreamer cowboy, who is a bit mixed up but bascially a good lad at heart. I won't spoil the plot for the reader, but it has some twists and turns and you just want it to turn out right for Norton's character.

Some great acting, and pathos and very enjoyable. It's definitley worth seeing and just the sort of laid-back type of film to see on a sunny evening with a beer.
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on 12 May 2014
When the gentlemanlike cowboy Harlan falls in love with Tobe,
who lives down in the valley with her father, he is out for a culture shock.

Down there riding a horse is a round on a wooden painted carrousel,
and cozy camp fire nights are burgers in a serviced snack bar.

In a society where stepping on your brother's lawn has become a breaking of a stranger's law,
and where guns are deliberately pointed at fellow humans, instead of screaming beasts of the wilderness,
Harlan's ground to stand for love is the size of his own grave.

On his deeply spiritual mission for happiness and non-violence,
Harlan encounters just fancy party pills and bullets of intimidation.

To the tunes of an acoustic guitar this movie is not an action flick,
but a one-of-its-kind spiritual and thought-provoking romantic western.
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on 11 April 2013
I am a huge Edward Norton fan, this was the first film of his I saw and fell in love with him, although his character is rather strange! The plot is rather weak, but if you just want to daydream about Edward then look no further
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on 2 July 2008
My biggest gripe with Down in the Valley is it's pacing. I'm not after action and violence, but I didnt want to be sent into a coma either. Everything just seems to happen too slow. And when things do finaly happen it kinda just, you know, happens. Nothing is shocking or powerful.
The best drawing point of the movie is the ever-brilliant Edward Norton. However, his character seemed a little characterless despite the fact that things were happening to his behaviour throughout. He is slowly built up to a ticking time bomb, but it turns out that the bomb fizzles rather than explodes. As soon as he rides off on his horse he takes you're interest and hope in the movie with him.
The final 10 minutes seemed to rushed and lacked direction. The ending wasn't even hard hitting despite the fact that it really should have been. The movie failed to apear creepy, distubing, interesting or any other adjective you'd expect this movie to bear.

Shame
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on 13 April 2011
I'm a big Edward Norton fan so expected a good performance from him at the very least. He did his best, but the story lacked in every way. Big disappointment, big shame.
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on 23 February 2011
Evan Rachel Wood doesn't quite scale the heights of Thirteen, nor does Ed Norton match his performance in Primal Fear, but this is an incredibly well acted film. The plot and dialogue aren't quite top drawer, but this is a decent film about a lost soul (Norton) meeting a kindred spirit (Wood) despite their difference in age. Norton's character believes he's a cowboy, Wood's character is an impressionable and rebellious teenager. It sounds a strange premise and is a little slow burning as a film, but it's enjoyable for fans of excellent actors like Ed Norton and Evan Rachel Wood.
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