Down in the Valley
Writer-director David Jacobson’s lulling, loping conceptual sketch of a movie graciously allows Edward Norton to explore the continuum of star allure that ranges from equable cowboy to loner psycho. Norton plays a Stetson-hatted suburban-Los Angeles drifter who hooks up with a doting, much younger girl (Evan Rachel Wood) and, not surprisingly, runs afoul of her embattled dad (David Morse). We don’t need the grim foreshadowing, or the Taxi Driver references, to know it won’t end well. Wood and Morse give strong support, and Norton, ramping his manner up from diffident to obsequious to belligerent, offers a more controlled rendering of the rightly praised turns he pulled in Primal Fear. This time, at least, he has the suitable context of an ironic Western. Still, though it smartly combines the aches of adolescence with the doomed uncertainty of movie-learned individualism, Jacobson’s picture seems less than the sum of its parts.