DOWN IN THE VALLEY Director: David Jacobson U.S.A.| 2005. COLOUR ANAMORPHIC. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 112 MIN. Book cinema tickets Following two barely visible low-budget features’Criminal’ (1994)and ‘Dahmer’ (2002)American director David Jacobson finds himself working on a much larger canvas with ‘Down in the Valley’, thanks to the involvement of star and producer Edward Norton, who also had a hand in the writing. Norton is excellent as Harlan, a cowboy out of his element as he rides a horse around the sprawling Los Angeles suburb that is present-day San Fernando Valley. Yet this is no mere vanity project for Norton. It is very much Jacobson’s film and shares with his earlier work a strong visual sense as well as a fascination with alienated outsiders whose psychotic tendencies are never far from the surface. At the start, Harlan appears to be little more than a naive country boy on the make, as he begins a relationship with rebellious teenager Tobe (Even Rachel Wood of ‘Thirteen’) and impresses her younger brother Lonnie (Rory Culkin) with his gun-slinging skills. But the kids’ law-enforcement father (David Morse) doesn’t buy Harlan’s act, and a showdown seems inevitable when he forbids the cowboy from seeing his family. Full of allusions to classic westerns, Jacobson’s film is at heart an ambitious exploration of the continuing influence of the cowboy myth. Crucially, the setting here is not Monument Valley but San Fernando Valley, home of the 12-lane highway but also the point where urban America meets the desert. Jacobson and cinematographer Enrique Chediak make striking use of their locations, employing every inch of the wide-screen frame to bring out the tension between the film’s Western and urban elements.Peter Walsh. Director: David Jacobson U.S.A.| 2005. COLOUR ANAMORPHIC. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 112 MIN.