A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
“2 Days in the Valley” has two subjects: twisted human behavior, and the complexity of its own plot. It looks like a crime movie, but crime is the medium, not the message; the crimes are an excuse for quick connections among strangers. What the writer-director, John Herzfeld, is mostly interested in are his peculiar characters, and the labyrinthine ways he can assemble them in the same story.
His method has been used before (the movie will remind you of Altman and Tarantino), but he's good at it. Herzfeld begins with inexplicable scenes and unexplained actions, and then connects the dots until everything comes together. The ending is neat and ingenious; the story is so complex, you wonder if he started there and worked backward.
I will not attempt a plot summary, which might take as long as the movie itself. Instead, here are some of the characters. Dosmo (Danny Aiello) is a hit man not without a trace of sweetness; he's afraid of dogs and likes to cook. Lee (James Spader) has hired Dosmo as a partner. He's a sadist who likes to pull out a stopwatch and give his victims 60 seconds to put their affairs in order. His lover is the icy Norwegian blond Helga (Charlize Theron).
Dosmo and Lee break into a bedroom being shared by a man named Roy Fox (Peter Horton) and his ex-wife Becky (Teri Hatcher), who is an Olympic skier but never placed higher than fourth. The woman is rendered unconscious, the man is killed, and . . . but I'm getting into the plot.