Changeling 1.0 stars

Changeling movie poster

Clint Eastwood was due for a dud, and this stacks up as his flattest film, his stumpiest film, since Blood Work, bookending his hot streak of Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and the Second World War diptych, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. Time once again to take it easy. Perhaps a partial explanation (or excuse) might be found in the fact that Eastwood took over the project from Ron Howard (still a co-producer on it), and certainly it possesses a moral simplicity that would seem these days to be beneath his interest. Never beneath Howard’s, however. An eighty-year-old nugget unearthed from the annals of the LAPD, fit for a remember-when newspaper story on a round-number anniversary, it tells of the disappearance of a nine-year-old boy on the day his working single mother, a roller-skating switchboard supervisor, was to have taken him to the new Chaplin picture (The Circus, presumably), and of the strong-arm attempts of the beleaguered police department, five months later, to palm off on her an imposter — the world’s oldest changeling — rounded up at a diner in Illinois. The situation, for all its purported factuality, is too ridiculous to be truly gripping; too much so even to be minimally maddening. Angelina Jolie, with Star Power on her side, in addition to Mother Love, in addition to Truth and Justice, campaigns for sainthood in a cloche hat and a hummock of crimson lipstick, accentuating her most grotesque feature — a pair of novelty-shop plastic lips — and providing the only dash of color in a frigid blue image. Validation, if not official canonization, will come in the form of four rounds of applause in open court. With inferior material, Eastwood’s “classical” style and deliberate pace (filling, and overfilling, his accustomed two-and-a-quarter-hour time slot) amount to little more than proficient hackwork. John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Colm Feore, Jason Butler Harner. 2008.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.

Comments

MarkScha Nov. 5, 2008 @ 8:26 p.m.

Far, far from a dud, this is Clint Eastwood's second-best film, in my opinion; and the advantage of Mystic River is only in the deeper acting skills among the cast. The crime story only lacked the killer's motive, and Eastwood got a supurb performance here. The police cover-up story realistically (I have friends that verified this) showed how the legitimate complaints of women led to inhumane confinement and "treatment" by barbarians disguised as doctors. Ms Jolie and Mr Malkovich worked well, cast against type. And the story made me feel for the crime victims, and cheer for Walter's present-mindedness in saving other boys. *

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MsGrant Nov. 15, 2008 @ 6 p.m.

"With inferior material"? Huh. Did we see the same film, Duncan? Far from the material being inferior, it was a gripping portrayal of actual facts that show just how far we have come, and not just in the treatment of women being viewed as hysterical if they displayed the slightest big of discomfort over treatment at the hands of men in power. It also brought to light improvements in forensics and the ability to track missing children now as opposed to 80 years ago. Angelina Jolie is so famous that her presence on screen does at times detract from the role she is playing, but she is such a good actress that once the story started to play out, I was able to relax and empathize with the character she was playing. Ghastly material is more like it, a true story, acted flawlessly. Clint Eastwood did his job beautifully.

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Gian Ghio Nov. 22, 2008 @ 11:06 p.m.

Duncan's review couldn't be more off on this movie. This is one of my top five movies of the year so far and a likely candidate for best picture. I can't belive he would give this movie anything less than 3 stars. It was well written, produced, filmed, directed, and acted. Angelina Jolie, John Malkovic, and Jeffrey Donovan all turn in excellent performances. Donovan should be nominated for best supporting actor for playing such an incredible douchebag, Captain JJ Jones. This film is disturbing on so many levels. Disturbing because a woman's son goes missing and she calls the police to file a report only to be told that he will probably turn up in the morning. Disturbing that the LAPD would try to pawn off another kid on Christine Collins and try to convince her into believing that it wasn't her son. Like any mother wouldn't be able to recognize their child? What kind of balls did that take to orchestrate all of those shenanigans. Disturbing that when Collins spoke out to the press, the police arrested her and had her committed to a mental institution with other women that had been involved in incidents that put a damper on the police department's public image. Disturbing that a guy on a ranch was kidnapping children and slaughtering them and the LAPD didn't know about it for over a year. It was a story that needed to be told and I'm glad I saw it. Thank you Clint Eastwood.

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3KITMOM Nov. 21, 2008 @ 2:52 p.m.

I saw Angelina Jolie's new film, oh, about a month ago. Changeling is still haunting me. It is a classic story, and superbly told by Director Eastwood. I like how he honors the viewer's intelligence, by slowly building a story, layer by layer. The movie was fascinating to observe, always trying to figure out the next move, a move not easy to see. Or believe. The movie was indeed mesmerizing; Ms. Jolie was magnetic, as she flawlessly delivered another Academy-worthy performance. What a hideous story. What horrible people in Los Angeles. Remember to always remember the story was one of true events. Fascinating, horrifying, haunting, and yet a love story of a mother for her son. Inspiring, too. Never give up, never give in.

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HRCordova March 24, 2009 @ 2:32 p.m.

I know that I'm not supposed to love a serial killer. But I did. I was mezmorized by this guys dialogue. When asked by reporter's, "How did you avoid capture?", the killer turns with raised cuffs and says "Well, I didn't, did I?" Great movie, aside from the gratuitous Jolie beauty shots.

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