Changeling

  • Film
  • Drama
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Great directors have an ability to make any material their own and take risks where others would demur. That is not to say that the subject of 78-year-old Clint Eastwood’s latest – the moving and true story of a traumatised lone mother (Angelina Jolie) who, in late 1920s Los Angeles, insists that the son returned to her by police following his kidnap is not hers – doesn’t involve themes and elements close to the director’s heart. It very much does: not least those of struggle against repressive systems, intolerable situations or impossible odds, a re-appraisal of the depiction of women and others seen as ‘second-class’ and an unflinching approach to the complexity, ironies, rituals  and political implications of crime and violence, punishment and revenge.

But having said that, ‘Changeling’ is, for an essentially populist work, unexpectedly audacious, advancing way beyond the call of duty in all its basic four elements. Firstly, as a period-reconstruction costumer, it is meticulous to the point of affectionate in its realisation of the lost world of 1928  LA, while never allowing such ‘colour’ to obscure or upstage the human drama. As a police investigative procedural, too, it mounts a sober, credible, yet searing critique of the famously corrupt political and law enforcement establishment of the day, led by Chief Davis (Colm Feore). And, as a variation on the campaigning/woman-in-jeopardy movie, it illicits Jolie’s finest performance to date, as the woman, Christine Collins, who faces her  worst nightmare – the kidnap of her 9-year-old son, while a child killer is known to be at work.

Jolie’s task is to show each calibration of her maddening dilemma (at one point she is incarcerated in a mental institution), caught as she is between suspended grief, fear, isolation, anger and – most movingly – her maternal feelings towards the imposter (Devon Conti) in her care. But, lastly, it is the restrained clarity of Eastwood’s exposition throughout this roller-coaster ride that is most impressive. He shows the horrors in the same way he observes Christine’s courage, all the while careful only to allow his sympathies to register by means of the tense and empathetic emotional line he keeps at every stage of his heroine’s hellish experiences. It’s a tough movie but also rewarding and inspiring: something of a quiet triumph.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday November 28 2008
Duration: 141 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenwriter: J Michael Straczynski
Cast: Jason Butler Harner
John Malkovich
Jeffrey Donovan
Amy Ryan
Angelina Jolie
Colm Feore
Michael Kelly

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:25
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|63
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Phil White

A moving movie on powerful themes`tho` a tad thin on credibility when dealing with the initial police response to the mother. The illustration of corrupt power demonstrates the potential for evil in contemporary society if good people say nothing. Apart from the strange, mannered performance of malkovich (not entirely unconvincing) and a somewhat two-dimensional policeman I felt the casting and direction worked well. The film made me seethe with anger at the arrogance and the lack of care depicted by officialdom and to be roused in support of those standing against it.he comment you type in this box will appear on the site

Phil White

A moving movie on powerful themes`tho` a tad thin on credibility when dealing with the initial police response to the mother. The illustration of corrupt power demonstrates the potential for evil in contemporary society if good people say nothing. Apart from the strange, mannered performance of malkovich (not entirely unconvincing) and a somewhat two-dimensional policeman I felt the casting and direction worked well. The film made me seethe with anger at the arrogance and the lack of care depicted by officialdom and to be roused in support of those standing against it.he comment you type in this box will appear on the site

cobnut1234

I thought AJ's acting was wooden like her body language - she didn't look like anybody's mother let alone that miserable child at the beginning of the film. She didn't even watch him walk into school when she got back on the bus - she was emotionally unconvincing in every scene. The best character was the cop who discovered the bodies at least he gave that poor digging kid a cuddle.

kent girl

BRILLIANT BRILLIANT BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!! Great, moving story...everyone should see it

kent girl

BRILLIANT BRILLIANT BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!! Great, moving story...everyone should see it

orangefizz

I loved changeling. I'm not too familiar with Jolie's back catalogue in fact I've usually avoided it but she impressed by this role. But she doesnt blanket the film and there are other roles , in particular John malkovich and the guy who played the captain for the LAPD who comliment the progression of the film. Such a tragic story and I think that was where I got sucked in. It was great.

Emma Dryden

Simply awful, Eastwood must be the most overrated director ever -this film would have been much better at the hands of, say, Paul Thomas Anderson, or M. Figgis, removing the irritating sentimentalism . As for Jolie what an excruciatingly dull and vain non-actress she is! Just try and magine Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchet in that part and you know how shortchanged you are by this mountain of bad acting and bad directing. How unreliable the Time Out review is!

danny

The best film i have seen in years!! these critics dont know what the hell there on about!!!

danny

The best film i have seen in years!! these critics dont know what the hell there on about!!!

Kev

Excellent film! Angelina Jolie is excellent in the role of Christine Collins, and proves she can act in this film.

Kev

Excellent film! Angelina Jolie is excellent in the role of Christine Collins, and proves she can act in this film.

marmitelover

Even the make up doesn't deserve an oscar being wrong for the era (sparkly?). Angelina Jolie merely adequate, covers her mouth with her hands all the time. The moment when she discovers her boy is definitely missing is pathetic: she delicately places a gloved hand near her mouth, careful not to smudge her lipstick or make up. Same for the asylum hose down scene, she emerges again with full make up. Excuse me, how vain is this actress? Can the 'most beautiful woman in the world' not present her naked face to the world, even when her role requires it? Imagine what the film would have been like with a good actress, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Holly Hunter.

Zoe

not watched it yet. sounds awesome. i luv angelina jolie. she's a wicked actor. can't wait 2 watch it.

Zoe

not watched it yet. sounds awesome. i luv angelina jolie. she's a wicked actor. can't wait 2 watch it.

sylvester

I went expecting great things from an Eastwood film, but those quivering red lips overwhelmed the film. What lipstick was she wearing that cannot be rubbed off even through trauma, incarceration, tears and hysteria. I thought the filming was excellent, the story was interesting and should have been harrowing and moving, but Angelina is a celebrity personality not an actor - at least not in this film, and I was unable to take the film seriously, particularly with the Kiera moment in the shower at the mental hospital. Has Angelina ever been to one of these institutions?

JOHN P

Director Eastwood tries to cover to many bases, including LA police corruption, abuse in mental hospitals, child abduction, public hangings, slasher killings...you just wind up exhausted and confused. As for Angelina Jolie---who seems to have no relationship with anyone in the film and her son who;s quickly abducted in the first fifteen minutes---overacts to the hilt and, to make matters sillier, looks like she;s wearing some sort of white-face mask. Pretty bad.

thomas nestor

this film was brilliant what-ever mister or miss miles sickalin says. its pretty obvious that the latter would not know a good film if it jumped up and bit them

thomas nestor

this film was brilliant what-ever mister or miss miles sickalin says. its pretty obvious that the latter would not know a good film if it jumped up and bit them

miles

sick SICKALING she just keeps sobbing and that is supposed to be cinema that is while she is not shrieking it is the worst melodrama i have ever seen what a farce how could somebody like eastwood make this sheer waste of celluloid

DonQuixote

It was a very good film although I would like to temper some of the out and out adulation shown by some. I thought Jolie's performance was workman-like, a little bit of emperor's new clothes there. Also, Malkovitch turned in the expected excellence but I somehow can't believe him in the role of a do-gooding priest. I kept on expecting him to suddenly turn Bad. Mind you, you wouldn't want to be the corrupt police going up against him!

DonQuixote

It was a very good film although I would like to temper some of the out and out adulation shown by some. I thought Jolie's performance was workman-like, a little bit of emperor's new clothes there. Also, Malkovitch turned in the expected excellence but I somehow can't believe him in the role of a do-gooding priest. I kept on expecting him to suddenly turn Bad. Mind you, you wouldn't want to be the corrupt police going up against him!

phil mk

Amazing depiction of the true story of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, and of Walter Collins, missing son of Christine Collins. The corrupt LA police had Christine (Jolie) incarcerated in mental institution when she informed them the boy they had found and "returned" to her was not her son. A compelling retelling of a true story about a dreadful abuse of power.

phil mk

Amazing depiction of the true story of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, and of Walter Collins, missing son of Christine Collins. The corrupt LA police had Christine (Jolie) incarcerated in mental institution when she informed them the boy they had found and "returned" to her was not her son. A compelling retelling of a true story about a dreadful abuse of power.

mary at inverurie

Interesting film and worth a visit. John Malkovich was well cast. However,at times, I felt Angelina Joile was just not quite suited to the part...

MOD

I thought this film was very very poor. It managed to be ponderous, boring and at moments was utterly tasteless. Angelina Jolie was drab and wooden - her performance bordering on amdram at times.

Justin Berkovi

After several disappointing films at the cinema recently I was pleased to say that this is a great film and precisely why you pay money to go to the cinema. I'm not usually a fan of Clint Eastwood's 'obvious' direction and his somewhat unsubtle style. But he deserves huge kudos here. This is not a comfortable film to watch, especially being a parent. It's heart wrenching stuff and most people in the audience shed tears at some point in the film. Eastwood's direction is superb, the actors brilliant and some of the cinematography absolutely beautiful. Jolie is good, restrained but does not have a huge screen presence...although in this film perhaps that is the point. This is easily the best Clint Eastwood directed film I've seen and one of the best films I've seen this year, I highly recommend it.

Justin Berkovi

After several disappointing films at the cinema recently I was pleased to say that this is a great film and precisely why you pay money to go to the cinema. I'm not usually a fan of Clint Eastwood's 'obvious' direction and his somewhat unsubtle style. But he deserves huge kudos here. This is not a comfortable film to watch, especially being a parent. It's heart wrenching stuff and most people in the audience shed tears at some point in the film. Eastwood's direction is superb, the actors brilliant and some of the cinematography absolutely beautiful. Jolie is good, restrained but does not have a huge screen presence...although in this film perhaps that is the point. This is easily the best Clint Eastwood directed film I've seen and one of the best films I've seen this year, I highly recommend it.

John

Movie of 2008 Eastwood and Jolie could win Oscars for this great film.

John

Movie of 2008 Eastwood and Jolie could win Oscars for this great film.

Sue

My favourite movie of the year. Powerful, moving and believable, the mother's pain almost tangible. I was riveted from start to finish and I tend to fidget in long films as a rule. Brilliant, an absolute must-see in my opinion.

Sue

My favourite movie of the year. Powerful, moving and believable, the mother's pain almost tangible. I was riveted from start to finish and I tend to fidget in long films as a rule. Brilliant, an absolute must-see in my opinion.

critique

Reliably crafted drama, at its best in its more understated scenes but all too often dipping into cliched melodrama. Jolie`s acting abilities seem to split opinion; I tend to feel she is over-estimated.

Sutton

Although a good film, it does not warrant the reve reviews. An interesting story and distressing to see how corrupt and dangerous LAPD were in the 1920's. I'm not convinced by Ms Jolie's acting ability, nevertheless a film worth seeing.

Sutu

Powerful directing, Great performances not just from Jolie but superbly supported. Does not feel like 2 hours 20 mins at all - testament to how well this film was made. Great story of injustice and resilience.

Sutu

Powerful directing, Great performances not just from Jolie but superbly supported. Does not feel like 2 hours 20 mins at all - testament to how well this film was made. Great story of injustice and resilience.

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