Monday, November 3, 2008

Changeling


A woman's son is missing, presumed kidnapped. When he's returned months later the mother insists he's not the same, as in the old switcheroonie. The police captain in charge of the case has the woman institutionalized as hysterical. Eventually another police officer while investigating a serial killer makes the grim determination that the two cases are related. An evangelical type with a radio program advocates the woman's innocence and seeks prosecution for the corruption inside the police department. Indeed the police told the lost boy to pretend he was her son, and meanwhile when the killer is brought to justice, in Changeling's most intense scene, he's hung execution style as the mother looks on.
Changeling asks the audience to dwell in the atmosphere of 1920s Los Angeles and provides a wonderful evocation of that era via wardrobe and in particular the transportation of the time, smart red street cars that crisscrossed the city. You feel and almost breathe the reality of Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) as she goes from grieving mother to police brutality victim. As directed by Clint Eastwood Changeling feels profoundly accomplished even as it unreels in way too long a manner and without a sense of tension or mystery. Changeling provides enough serious entertainment so it's easy to cut it slack when it takes an extra reel to wrap up events. Eastwood is good at orchestrating all the technical elements including the two-faced tactics the cops use, the film looks sleek from beginning to end, only one wishes he used his directorial touch to give the story some kind of momentum. As it plays Changeling is tepid and predictable and with the exception of Jolie's moving performance a mid-level entry from Eastwood.


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