Changeling

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.

★★★½

Rottentomatoes: 54%Cream of the Crop: 46%

Comments
6 Responses to “Changeling”
  1. CinderRocks says:

    I’m pretty sure this does look fantastic. Angelina does it again!

    PS nice review.

  2. Mad Hatter says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. One of the best of the year so far.

  3. magicman says:

    Yeah, good job! This really does look fantastic! You’re just such a good blogger. Sometimes I feel that you’re biased towards Angelina Jolie, since you’ve worshipped her from high school days.

    Also, did you see Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Not a good acting job. Remember the part when she’s talking to Brad in the car as they’re driving home and she’s mad at herself? Yeah, that wasn’t good.

  4. Jessica says:

    Darn that Clint Eastwood and his good movies.

  5. Tim says:

    Bringing up the rear on this one–just caught it on pay-per-view and am so mad at myself for having missed it on the big screen. Does anyone currently working know how to frame a widescreen picture better than Eastwood? I don’t think so.

    Until now, I’ve admired Jolie with a degree of caution. Not so after this. She owns this role and this movie from start to stop, a phenomenal achievement given how much of it transpires without her on-screen. At last, we have a worthy successor to Redgrave–an actress of improbable emotional intelligence, who knows how to convey raw, inarticulate power via elegantly pronounced gesture.

    Celebrity and box-office potential will no doubt result in a lamentably compromised body of work for her. But if she’s got to suffer “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Lara Croft” to avail herself to opportunities like this one, I’ll gladly suffer right along with her.

  6. Ira says:

    This IS one terrific film.

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