‘Down in the Valley’


Like Don’t Come Knocking, this contrived lament for the lonesome cowboy means to measure what remains of the old western in the absence of the Old West, eventually plopping its displaced ranch hand protagonist onto the fake Main Street of an old western movie set just to make sure we don’t miss any of the cine-mythic connotations. Writer-director David Jacobson (Dahmer) also cribs freely from a certain archetypal urban oater: Edward Norton’s Stetson-sporting San Fernando Valley loner takes to twirling his Colt .45 in front of the motel room mirror while, as the unattainable object of his affection, Evan Rachel Wood effortlessly channels Cybill Shepherd. Stepping out with a weirdo twice her age, Wood’s 18-year-old suburban rebel runs afoul of her sheriff stepdad (David Morse), and no wonder: Even as Jacobson ludicrously twists his hero from aw-shucks-y’all gas pumper to the Max Cady of the Valley and purports to blame power lines and freeways and tract-home developments for the cowboy’s undoing, the real culprit, old as the West, is teen female desire.