It’s especially heartbreaking as a critic when a film that looks as gorgeous and feels as grandiose as Valley Of The Gods ultimately falls incredibly short of expectations.
This bold, visceral film is an intense thrill ride with a beautiful vision, and yet, the final 20 minutes unravel all that this movie had built. It’s one of the most disappointing, frustrating conclusions I’ve seen in any film in the last decade.
Valley starts off well enough, with a self-involved writer struggling to find purpose in life who meets reclusive trillionaire Wes Tauros, and sees a totally different side of one of the richest men in the world.
This take on American capitalism, faith and absurdity in our world and how to cope feels timely, but ultimately doesn’t take things to a cohesive place.
Josh Hartnett is fantastic, and John Malkovich is unusually quiet and formidable all the seem as Tauros. And yet, they cannot seem to save the proceedings, which start at feverishly ludicrous and quickly move into incomprehensible, batshit territory.
The film has the beauty and grace of a Terrence Malick film and the tone and structure of a Yorgos Lanthimos film gone terribly awry. Valley Of The Gods looks and features performances that could be attributed to a best picture nominee.
But by the time you hit the final frame, you’ll be praying to get out of this valley and go back to civilization, which even in 2020 is remarkably normal by comparison.