Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Premise: The true story of a woman (Angelia Jolie)
whose son disappeared in 1920s Los Angeles. The authorities return a boy to her
who is not her son and then intimidate her when she questions the department.
What Works: Changeling is another good
effort by Clint Eastwood. The film is tonally and thematically consistent with Mystic
River and in parts it reaches the same heights in quality. Like Mystic
River the film deals with violence against children and Eastwood finds the
right mark with the topic, showing enough to convey the horror of these events
without watering it down or exploiting it. The film deals with corruption in
city government and it handles the exposition very well, providing the
information in ways that are congruent with the narrative, raising the stakes of
the story and moving along the plot. Angelia Jolie delivers one of the best
performances of her career as Christine Collins, a woman who was battered first
by the loss of her son and then by a corrupt system that tried to break her.
Jolie conveys both the character’s toughness and her human vulnerability which
makes her resilience all the more heroic. It’s a careful characterization that
Jolie’s performance and the screenplay bring out very nicely. The other great
performance here is Devon Conti as serial killer Arthur Hutchins. Conti is very
frightening and in a limited amount of screen time he is able to create a truly
What Doesn’t: Changeling has multiple
endings. While this set up and defeat of expectation mirrors the journey of
Christine Collins, it is also an exhausting experience for the audience.
DVD extras: None.
Bottom Line: Changeling is a very good film and one of the better entries in Eastwood’s extraordinary string of recent directorial efforts.
Episode: #229 (March 1, 2009)