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Clint Eastwood directs Oscar winner Angelina Jolie and Oscar nominee John Malkovich in a riveting and unforgettable true story. Los Angeles, 1928. When single mother Christine Collins (Jolie) leaves for work, her son vanishes without a trace. Five months later, the police reunite mother and son; but he isn’t her boy. Driven by one woman’s relentless quest for the truth, the case exposes a world of corruption, captivates the public and changes Los Angeles forever. This emotionally gripping story illustrates the profound power of a mother’s love in “a mesmerizing film that burns in the memory” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone).
Clint Eastwood’s mastery as a director, established over the past decade and a half with Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima, and others, continues with Changeling, a 2008 offering based on a shocking but all-too-true story about child abduction and police corruption in 1920s Los Angeles. Single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie, excellent in a role with somewhat limited parameters) finds her 9-year-old son, Walter, missing when she returns home from work one day. She files a report with the Los Angeles Police Department, an outfit that was wildly unpopular at the time (in his regular radio broadcast, a crusading pastor played by John Malkovich decries the force as "violent and corrupt," adding that "our protectors are our brutalizers"). When a child roughly matching Walter’s description turns up in Illinois five months later, the LAPD, intent on salvaging its tattered reputation, is only too eager to claim that he is Collins’ missing child. Little matters that he’s three inches shorter, is circumcised (Walter wasn’t), and fails to pass muster with Walter’s dentist, schoolteacher, and others; the cops, in particular the odious Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan), insist that the mistake is Christine’s, not theirs. What follows is almost too nightmarish to believe--except that it actually happened. Exasperated by Collins’ continued claim that "Walter" is a fraud, they trot out a doctor to reinforce the bogus ID, declare her unfit as a mother, and finally have her committed to a local psychopathic ward. Through it all, Collins, bolstered by the pastor and thousands of outraged Angelenos, refuses to sign a document that would exonerate the police for their egregious error. As for Walter, it’s only when the LAPD’s seemingly only honest detective (Michael Kelly) takes matters into his own hands that the grisly mystery of the child’s fate begins to be solved. That would have been a good place for the film to conclude, too. Unfortunately, it goes on for more than another half hour, with innumerable false endings that add nothing to the story and could just as easily have been summarized with a few sentences before the final credits. That flaw aside (and it’s a major one), Changeling is a powerful film, with a realistic period feel, a wonderfully muted vibe and color palette, and an understated score by Eastwood himself. --Sam Graham
Stills from Changeling (Click for larger image)
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Top customer reviews
This film is dark and powerful. To imagine even a department as well known for corruption as this, actually trying to pass off a false child to a parent is sickening. Jolie plays the part with lots of conviction. John Malkovich is excellent as Reverend Gustav, already an ardent attacker of the L.A.P.D., who becomes involved in the case enough to rescue Jolie's character from the depths of an asylum later on.
This is one of director Eastwood's darkest films as far as subject matter. While it shows one of the worst sides of human nature, it also shows the power of a mother's love and is well worth watching.
in place and making perfect sense. Such have become the earmarks
of a Clint Eastwood film..his taste and touch is impeccable
as both a director and producer!
(Of course, his acting, when he is acting, is nothing
to sneeze at either!) Angelina Jolie did a wonderful job
as a woman in the late 1920's who endures an unimaginable
ordeal that must be seen to be believed!
There were some moments that had me on the end of my seat
and others that I almost couldn't bear, mainly the brutality
of the child murderer who is revealed later into the film!
Even though she is not reunited with her son, the story still
finds a way to end on a ray of hope.
This was definitely an oscar-worthy performance in a year
of many oscar-worthy performances!
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