Clint Eastwood just can’t seem to lose. Have you checked out his imdb.com page? It’s ridiculous. Ever since 2003′s Mystic River, he’s directed nothing but bitchin’ films. Changeling is no exception, despite the complaints of many.
The story is based on true events that came to pass in Los Angeles in the 1920s and 30s. Christine Collins is a single mother, raising her nine year old son. She works as telephone operator (and a damn good one at that). She’s called into work on a Saturday, and leaves her son Walter at home. When she returns, he’s gone. She seeks the help of the insanely corrupt LAPD, but is met with ambivalence. Five months later, the police return a boy that is four inches shorter than Walter, and doesn’t look like him at all. When she tries to convince the police that it’s not her son, she’s thrown into an insane asylum until she’s willing to admit that the boy returned is, in fact, her boy. Assisting her in her fight is Gustav Briegleb, an outspoken reverend who uses his weekly radio broadcasts to expose political and police corruption. Also sprinkled in is a completely insane Canadian serial killer that may or may not have killed Christine’s son.
The drama is ultra compelling. The lengthy two hours and twenty minutes flies by as Eastwood deftly works his magic. And who could want a more talented cast than Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich (who plays the good Reverend), and Amy Ryan (who plays one of Christine’s fellow internees at the asylum). Jolie is an acting tour de force who may have given the best performance of her career, if the Academy ignores her again (they completely ignored her compelling performance in A Might Heart) they need punched in the face. The script writing was also a feat, albeit it slightly surprising, coming from J. Michael Straczynski who spent most of his time until now writing for Babylon 5 and Walker, Texas Ranger. The chief complaint of most critics thus far is the fact Changeling gives into convention far too often. While the plot is slightly formulaic, it doesn’t deter how much you’ll enjoy this film. Don’t let the trailer fool you into thinking this is a light, sad story about a wronged mother either, it’s dark, really dark, and fantastic all the way. Don’t listen to the naysayers, this is one terrific film.