Rating: R for language, nudity and violence
Run Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Norton reappears after a lengthy screen absence (but for a masked turn in “
of the title is
There’s something wholly unseemly about a thirty-something drifter hooking up with an underage girl. The script plays it for hearts and flowers but Harlan’s aw-shucks attitude and slimy obsequiousness has to be covering for the fact that he’s either an escaped mental patient or a serial killer.
maintains his creepy cowboy innocence as far as the script will allow. To this
point the narrative is slow but rather sweet, mired in the fervent glow of
first love and a sultry
Sooner rather later Tobe’s law enforcement dad Wade (David Morse) blows a gasket over the idea of his daughter as jailbait and Harlan, who’s tipping over the edge a la Travis Bickle, can’t take the heat. Suffice it to say that he may be a couple sandwiches shy of a prairie picnic.
Norton is such a blazing talent that I expected a lot of him in this intriguing but convoluted romantic tragedy. He has a knack for rising above the material but “Valley” weighs him down with tricky tangents and overblown dramatics. Rory Culkin plays true to type as the damaged younger brother, Wood reprises her sullen turn in “Thirteen” and the generally solid Morse is cornered as the overworked jerk who tough loves his kids with large dollops of muscle and regret.
“Valley” could have been a contender; toeing a fine line between the Old West and the idiosyncrasies of its contemporary counterpart. Instead it misfires like a seized-up six-shooter.