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Changeling (2008)

A movie directed by Clint Eastwood

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A Glimpse at a Another Bit of Disturbing American History

  • Jul 4, 2009
Rating:
+3
Pros: Outstanding performance by Angela Jolie; great supporting cast.

Cons: A little slow at times.

The Bottom Line:

A little plodding at times Changeling is a great film and I have little problem recommending it.



Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

We Americans like to think that our justice system is the best in the world. That our rights, enshrined as they are in the under the Bill of Rights, can never be infringed upon, especially by those sworn to uphold the very cloth upon which they are printed.  How wrong we all are!  Indeed as Changeling (2008) proves in startling clarity, our rights are at the mercy of those charged with their protection and they, our rights, can and are violated at will by self-serving individuals with anything but Truth, Justice, and the American Way beating in their breasts. 

Story-Line

Produced and directed by Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Blood Work, Flags of Our Father) Changeling chronicles the true story Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie - Girl, Interrupted, Taking Lives, Beowulf) a single mother whose son Walter (Gattlin Griffith) goes missing one day from their Los Angeles home in 1925.

Christine calls the police and after the mandatory 24-hour waiting period the much maligned Los Angeles Police Department starts looking for her son.  They think they have found him in DeKalb, IL and Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan - Burn Notice, Crossing Jordan) contacts Christine with the good news.  But when the boy arrives Christine insists that he is not her son and sets about proving it in a number of ways, but Captain Jones, fearful of how it will make him and the LAPD look, refuses to listen to her and when she goes to the press with her story he has her locked up in the Los Angles Country jail for the mentally disturbed without cause or warrant. 

Meanwhile, a local priest, one Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich - The Glass Menagerie, Dangerous Liaisons, Of Mice and Men), who has made it his duty to account LAPD corruption via his nightly radio show, comes to the aid of Christine, helps win her freedom from jail and puts her in touch with a note Civil Attorney who takes on her case. 

The plot in Changeling is quite involved, too involved to detail here, sufficed to say, the script is brilliantly done and recounts in some detail the events that transpired between 1925 and 1935.

My Thoughts
 
As the nexus of this tale Angeline Jolie as Christine does an excellent job of relating the kaleidoscope of emotions that must have made up Ms. Collins during this period of her life. Jolie never plays Christine over the top; indeed she imbibes the character with a quiet dignity; she is at times emotional, but never distraught to the point where she loses focus on her son and her determination to have him returned to her.  He was her world and her oft silent tear speak volumes about her private suffering at the hands of the Police Department more concerned about protecting itself than it is the citizens they serve.

However, Jolie at times, well, all of time, looked quite unhealthy; she is rail thin, which makes her rather pouty lips all the more distinguished.  Her face is so thin that often-times they, her lips took over her face.  And her insistence on wearing bright red lipstick did not help matter any!  Nevertheless, Jolie turns in a stirring and convincing performance, as did the rest of the cast.  And need I credit Eastwood's direction as suburb?  I Thought not.

The title, Changeling, and the trailers for the movie carry with them an allusion that this was to be a science fiction film and that the events that unfold, despite the fact that they're all very well recorded, are the stuff of fiction.  As an American raised on a constant diet of patriotism and American infallibility, it is almost impossible to believe that such things could have happened within recent memory, but they did, along with a host of other events that run contrary to the county's much polished image as the bastion of equal justice.  The fact that the events that unfold in Changeling serve to make the narrative all the more compelling story it tells is compelling, augmented by Eastwood's own musical score.  The result is gripping cinema, and certainly serves as one of Eastwood best films to date.

A little plodding at times Changeling is a great film.  Despite its length (141 minutes) the effective period design, subdued colors, and the suburb plot driven narrative grabbed my attention (and alright some of my emotion) with a firm grip as the story unfolds from Christine's point of view.  The cast does a marvelous job of dropping us into this sometimes unbelievable story.  I have little problem recommending Changeling.

Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: None of the Above
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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October 21, 2010
Jeffrey Donovan was great in this, great review.
October 21, 2010
I know. I see you are liking the CHANGELING reviews here...
 
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More Changeling reviews
review by . April 13, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
You really have to go a ways to lead with Angelina Jolie and be directed by icon Clint Eastwood, and yet create this lame of a film.  Considering the incredibly disturbing nature of the subjects covered, I was beyond let down by the end when I was not only NOT moved to tears, but totally apathetic.  I have a young daughter, and hesitated to watch this film for fear of becoming even more paranoid about her ever coming in harms way.  Yeah, well... that would require the film touching …
review by . August 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
JEFFREY DONOVAN IS EXCELLENTLY EVIL IN THIS
      CHANGELING      I went into this film for only one reason and it had nothing to do with Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, or Angelina Jolie. I watched this for Jeffrey Donovan since I am a huge fan of his especially his show with Bruce Campbell "Burn Notice", possibly the best show on today. So I was excited to learn that he was in this and had a major role in it as well. Still with that a side every one involved with this film did an excellent job …
Quick Tip by . August 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
This was a wonderful film that I think was snubbed by the Academy but what ever, this film is great with out them. I recommend this flick to any and every one that enjoys a good movie. Normally I would say something like this may not be for every body but this time I will say, every body go get this. Everyone in this film and every one that worked on it should be proud, a marvelous piece of film making based on real events.
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It was really interesting to see Angelina Jolie in such a fragile role and she did it very well. The way she toughens throughout the story also feels genuine. The wider subject treated in the film was also a piece of history I was intrigued to learn about since I have lived and worked previously in LA's Inland Empire.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Angelina Jolie at her best. The story is moving and will make you just mad. I loved it
review by . September 14, 2009
Changeling is the story, based upon actual events, of Christine Collins' quest to find her young son Walter, missing without a trace. It is also the story of appalling corruption in the government and police department of 1920's-'30's Los Angeles, which apparently has been a significant problem of long-standing. A third subplot involves a serial child killer who may or may not have had contact with Walter, and a forth presents a horrific view of the psychiatric ward in a local hospital.     Ange …
review by . March 04, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
scene
The police finding the wrong boy and insists that it is someone's son…mistakes like this don't happen, do they? Well, apparently they did in Los Angeles back in 1928 and this fact is actually very disquieting. "Changeling" is a film based on the experiences of a woman named Christine Collins and on the murders of a small town outside L.A. called "Wineville". Co-produced by Clint Eastwood and written by one of my favorite writers, J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Midnight Nation, Thor), the film …
review by . March 16, 2009
Christine Collins: The boy they brought back is not my son.       Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):     1. A single mother's only son is missing   2. It takes five months for the Police to reunite the mother and the boy who said "I am the one"   3. But she knew that the kid was not her son   4. The Police Captain insisted: "Don't go Changeling. She'll love you just the way you are"   5. But she didn't   6. …
review by . March 09, 2009
When you watch a historical based true story like the Changeling it's hard to know for sure if the actors are channeling the spirits of those they are portraying. (or if their performace is bad) That being said both Angelina Jolie (Oscar nomination) and Jeffery Donovan do solid jobs at best as they help recreate a story about a real killer in the late 1920s. Clint Eastwood as director and producer kept this film on track as do strong acting performances from John Malkovich and Michael Kelly.  …
review by . March 26, 2009
Little did I know, when I lived in Mira Loma, what heinous crimes had been committed just up the road from my little rural home.  It wasn't until much later that I learned of the Chicken Ranch murders....    What makes this movie spectacular is the attention to every minute detail in terms of set decoration.  I love films set in this period, but this one in particular gives loving homage to the time in which it is set.    Angelina Jolie is a talented …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #188
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie

Wiki

Changeling is a 2008 American drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by J. Michael Straczynski. Set in 1928 Los Angeles, the film is based on the true story of a woman who is reunited with her kidnapped son—only to realize he is an impostor. After confronting the city authorities, she is vilified as an unfit mother and branded delusional. The incident was related to the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, a kidnapping and murder case uncovered in 1928. Changeling explores themes such as feminine disempowerment and corruption in political hierarchies. It was made by Imagine Entertainment and Malpaso Productions for Universal Pictures.

Clint Eastwood’s mastery as a director, established over the past decade and a half withUnforgiven,Million Dollar Baby,Letters from Iwo Jima, and others, continues withChangeling, 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 ...
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Details

Director: Clint Eastwood
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: October 31, 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
Runtime: 141 min
Studio: Universal Studios
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