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  • Heartbreaking yet captivating, Changeling's story was fascinating all the way through, even if the first half was a little slow. It certainly was a compelling story, shot beautifully, and written well. Angelina Jolie gave a mesmerizing performance as grief stricken Christine Collins, as well as the many young actors in the film. It's certainly worth the time.
  • Watching this film is like taking a look back in time. Everything is picture perfect, the beautiful automobiles, the red electric street cars, the telephones, the switchboard station with roller-skating supervisors, the house appliances, and the outstanding clothing, from dresses to hats to police uniforms, everything is meticulously detailed. The story, which we are told is true, is complex and multifaceted. Angelina Jolie, who plays Christine Collins, gives an outstanding performance as a single mother who returns home from work to find that her son is missing. This puts into motion a series of events that exposes the reality of what Los Angeles society was really like in the late 1920's. Corrupt Police, uncaring and self absorbed mental health professionals and the basic premise that people left to their own ambitions will do anything to secure their own prosperity. Although this paints a bleak picture of the human condition, the film show that the actions of a few good men can make a world of difference, John Malkovich as Reverend Gustav Briegleb, is determined to expose the corrupt Police in his radio talk show, Michael Kelly as detective Lester Ybarra, although hampered by his superiors, uncovers what really happened to the boy and the unlikely hero, a powerful attorney who takes her case pro-bono comes to her rescue. If indeed this is a true story, then to see these people stand up to the powers that be is a ray of hope to all of us that there were people who were strong and principled. We can only hope that there are still people like that out there today.
  • Wow, is this an involving story. It hooks you in fast and really grabs hold. It's very good in that aspect because it really makes you care about what happens. The story involves a parent's worst nightmare, so I would expect moms and dads to be particularly horrified. The movie manipulates, no doubt being overdone here and there, but it's generally effective.

    Angelina Jolie does a superb job of portraying a Los Angeles woman ("Christine Collins") in the late 1920s whose boy is kidnapped. Five months later, the "proud" police department brings her kid back, making it a good PR session. Unfortunately, it's not her kid and stupidly, although she's naturally upset about, she poses with the kid and takes him home. (Would that really happen?).

    Then she begins her quest of finding her real "Walter." Further twists and turns make the story increasingly horrifying. In all, you won't be able to keep your eyes off the screen wondering if justice will ever prevail in the end and who exactly is involved in what. It's not particularly a fun ride - you'll have a frown on your face for quite some time - but it sure is interesting and an excellent two hour-plus of entertainment. By the end, you'll be emotionally exhausted.

    Kudos to all the actors in here for riveting performances and to the production and design team for a great period piece. Where else can you feel you're back 75-80 years in time with the boxy cars and flapper hats than in movies?
  • There is nothing more reliable than Eastwood behind the camera, with his assured touch his films are never boring or deliberately confusing, hiding technical devices or special effects that detract from the most important part of movie making: a good screenplay, a good story, good acting. For the past 10 years, many films have been unduly praised because they have one or two great performances, unfairly leaving many good and deserving movies without the recognition they deserved. Eastwood has however, given us the whole package time after time, with movies as varied as "Mystic River", "Letters", "Million Dollar Baby" and now "Changeling". True, there is a link, they are all strong films, with themes that deal with pain and loss, but the stories are different, the settings require an amazing attention to detail, what they all share is a strong focus, and interestingly enough, superb performances.

    Eastwood has paved the way to acting honors for Penn, Freeman, Swank, Hackman, and others that were continuously ignored by the Academy. There is no denying the power of their performances in Eastwood's movies, and that leads to the center of this film: Jolie. I read recently that her performance has been attacked as being affected and the attempt of a star to look normal. Putting aside those silly and biased remarks, let's state something clearly, the lady has given us a fantastic tour de force, proving that she can be both a star when looking at the other cameras, but that when she is working for a director, she gives her best, regardless of what our perception of her private life might be. If you are a critic with a personal disapproval of that persona, keep it to yourself, concentrate on the film and the work of the performer.

    As the mother who desperately wants the truth about her child, Angelina is flawless. We can read the pain in her eyes, the determination and the disturbing reality that her obsession might be having unexpected results, but one thing is clear, there is a drive that won't quit, and it's admirable for those of us who want her to be reunited with her child, and it's quite inconvenient for the people who have other interests at hand.

    Her battle with the folks at LAPD is of epic proportions, and it is amazing that she held on to her goal of exposing the corruption that she encountered as she searched for her missing boy. There are some horrific moments in the film, as we relieve some of the injustices and Gothic horror of places like the hospital in this film. There are also some background scene that might or not reveal what really happen. There are moments when one is a bit exhausted from all the information the film delivers, but every moment is worth it. It is all framed with an expert hand, and it is anchored by the very powerful work by Jolie and the rest of an amazing cast that brings to life emotions such as madness, anger, pain, sorrow, and many times, disbelief that humans can be capable of such terrible actions.

    The film contains amazing production values, as we are taken back to an era that doesn't exist anymore. The recreation of the time Los Angeles was on its way to being a real city is incredible, as we see it before it fell apart and spread all over a gigantic geographical area, losing its identity. The musical score is a sweet melody that hints at the love and pain themes in the film, and there are some moments bound to become classic, as children tell the stories that adults might not want to face or believe.

    All in all, "Changeling" may be very difficult to sit through, but it is not less impressive, effective or good than any of the last five films Eastwood has made. As a matter of fact, it's just one masterpiece from the man who could teach Hollywood a few lessons.
  • Changeling - In 1928, Single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) returns home one day to discover her nine-year-old son, Walter, is missing. She calls the police and, after enduring a grueling 24 hours, they search for her son. But the boy they return to her is not her son. After confronting corrupt city authorities, Collins is vilified as an unfit mother and sent to an asylum.

    This is a grueling film to watch. I have not felt this hideous since North Country, a film which also dealt with misogyny within the power structure. Women are treated as fragile, emotional, and not believable. This film tackles corruption to boot, as the LAPD is accused of being a gang of thugs that answer to no one. Eastwood is old school with the violence, understanding that the mind can fill in the very brutal gaps.

    Angelina Jolie delivers another great performance. But unlike A Mighty Heart, this film actually deserves her presence. I don't think she really should have so much press coverage, but there is definitely reason for her acclaim as an actress. The situation her character goes through is so surreal and the film captures it perfectly. It gives you chills from the second Christine is given this pretender to raise and rarely lets up. And if for one moment you tell yourself "It's just a movie" as I tried to, this s*** actually happened. Characters were composited or changed, a disclaimer at the end states, but the events were the same.

    An odd praise goes out to Jason Butler Harner, who plays Gordon Northcott, a kidnapper and murderer of many children. He has played one of the monsters of everyone's nightmares to perfection. Also of note is Jeffrey Donovan for his portrayal of J. J. Jones, corruption personified. Jones is a man able to whisk people away to asylums with no need of warrants. Scary indeed.

    Changeling shares a theme with several of Clint Eastwood's other films. Unforgiven and Flags of Our Fathers come most readily to mind. His lesson concerns truth and lies, and exposing the hypocrisy of falsehoods for want of the truth. The truth is rarely pretty, but generally preferable to lies, and will often come to surface, if given enough time. I doubt I will watch this struggle for truth for a long time to come (it's not one for casual viewing), but it's a very good film.

    A-
  • Christine Collins: "The boy they brought back is not my son."

    ClintEastwood s knows a good story, and he knows how to tell it on film. Not everything he does is as powerful as his depiction of a dynamic female boxer in Million Dollar Baby, for which Hilary Swank won a best actress Oscar among four for the film. In Changeling he presents another strong woman, Christine Collins, played by the notable Angelina Jolie. Because she is directed to weep at almost every turn and regularly underplay her grit, Jolie won't win accolades, nor will Eastwood rack up the nominations as he frequently does in Oscar season. But his adaptation of the historic Wineville Chicken Murders chills with his perceptions about the capriciousness of crime and the determination of those who choose to fight it.

    In a Prohibition-era 1928, Collins gets word that the Los Angeles Police Department is returning her kidnapped eight-year old son. When she sees him at the station, a finely directed sequence showing the forces of motherhood and politics clash, she knows it is not her child. LAPD, needing the good publicity, forces her to take the boy overnight with the logic that she is merely in shock. The rest of this overly long thriller carefully traces the discoveries leading to resolutions and disappointments. Along the way, police corruption is exposed, mental institution incarceration of women is laid bare, and grisly serial murdering is slowly detailed.

    Yet in this discursive narrative, Eastwood indulges himself beyond Jolie's annoying crying by gratuitously laboring over the details of an execution. The stark San Quentin setting is ghastly and the villain worthy except for the film's obvious criticism of false mental institution lockup, ironic here because this murderer is clearly deranged enough to be determined unfit for trial.

    As in every Eastwood production, the values are first-rate, in this case period costuming and vehicles (those Model T's and trolley cars are beautiful). As in Mystic River, Eastwood knows how to splice family and community together in the struggle against organized crime, from street violence to public service malpractice. The activist preacher Reverend Briegleb (John Malkovich) helps bring the worlds together in his radio broadcasts, Malkovich for once playing good well. Eastwood continues to be the director of choice for depicting crimes and heartaches that strike the common citizen at will.

    We all should be as productive in our later years. May he extend well beyond his golf-playing days and into our future.
  • griffolyon123 November 2008
    Changeling is the new film from director Clint Eastwood. It is based on a true story that takes place in 1928 L.A.

    The story is about a woman who returns home one day to find her son missing. Then a few months later the police return a child to her, but it isn't her son. The woman keeps on telling everyone that this child isn't her son, but the police keep on claiming that it is her son and are calling the woman crazy.

    The film is a wonderful study about police corruption in L.A. in the late 1920s. The film is emotionally gripping, and at times disturbing.

    The film was superbly directed by Clint Eastwood, who was working from a terrific script by J. Michael Straczynski. Not only that, but Eastwood also wrote the film's score, which was very good as well. Of course the acting is what truly stole the show for me. Angelina Jolie delivers an Oscar worthy performance as the mother of the missing child, but what truly surprised me was how good these children in the cast were. All of the child actors were very well cast and all delivered amazing performances.

    As a whole Eastwood's Changeling is one of the best films of the year, and should be up for some big-time Oscars at year's end.

    A perfect 10 out of 10!
  • samanthanelson-3084617 November 2015
    Although I loved Clint Eastwood very much as an actor, I have to admit that I appreciate him even more as a director because this man does not use the standard Hollywood tricks. He just knows to tell a good story, using only good a script and great acting. "Changeling" is the story woman's battle with the police and the system, and an indeed fascinating tribute to commitment of a person to break the corruption, cover-up and the excavation to find her child that she got taken from her. The film has few explicit scenes and an atmosphere that is really tough to follow. There is really a lot going on in this emotionally difficult and fantastically filmed movie, definitely worth your time and attention. A masterpiece.
  • Angelina Jolie, for outstanding performance in Changeling.

    Wow, I think I need to calm down a bit. I was skeptic at first to see this movie but I don't regret spending 900 króna's (I'm from Iceland so that's very expensive) on a movie ticket to see the best movie I've seen in a long time. And I encourage everyone to do the same, go see Changeling.

    This movie has everything; a terrific story based on true events, outstanding acting from everyone of the cast, excitement, tears, blood and it holds you tight until the end. And I won't forget the magic behind the camera provided by the genius Clint Eastwood.

    Angelina's character is terrific and she fights, what seems to be at first a lost fight, for her son in a world controlled by men. You learn to hate some characters in the movie and love others. You learn to feel for Angelina's character and hope the movie ends well. Changeling will make you cry and when you walk out of the theater after this fantastic film you feel both good and satisfied.

    Angelina was so good and convincing in this movie that I could not believe my own eyes and ears. And John Malkovich was very good too but Angelina is the rock of this movie. She carries it on her shoulders and Clint Eastwood directs her like...like...I don't know what to write anymore, I'm still calming down. I'm going to stop now and finish the review with these two sentences: If Angelina Jolie gets an Oscar nomination for her acting she deserves to win. Just go see Changeling and Angelina's acting will blow your mind.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I loved this film hugely. It was slow to start as most movies directed by Clint Eastwood are, but I really loved the storyline, the characters, the suspense and drama. I was hooked on the movie and so engaged. It was probably my favourite movie by Eastwood.

    The character I despised in this film was Captain J.J Jones, who was wonderfully acted by Jeffrey Donovan. This is the actor who plays the characters that I LOVE to despise. His character in Hitch, Bait and Changeling, I despise. I just want him to lose. I want him to die. I just wanted Captain J.J Jones to suffer for his controlling and manipulative attitude. He put the mother through a terrible ordeal for his own selfish gain. I was so glad to see him lose his role as an officer for life and gain punishment! I despised him from the start right to the end!

    I would recommend it to people to film lovers. For it is a film you will either get bored and turn it off, or really allow it to take it's time to unfold and that's where you will find the joy in watching this wonderful film.

    This movie was fantastic. The way it was constructed, flowed and created. It had the Eastwood directing touch and the colour of a sepia/black and white contrast added to the wonderful tone of the film. The actors were perfectly cast in their roles as they all brought depth and emotion to the characters. Overall such a great film that I would remember for a long time!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Clint Eastwood's newest project, Changeling, is sort of awesome, sort of annoying. The true story of Christine Collins, a telephone operator and single mother in 1928 Los Angeles, has a promising script and cast, but fails to accomplish any major feats on screen. At times the dialog feels forced. For example, when Jolie adds an ambient "Sport" moniker or makes references to Cleopatra. It's as if Eastwood is saying to the audience "Yes, this really is 1928, I promise." Historical accuracy is important in a film claiming truth, but Changeling is a bit like scaling a wall— there is not much to hold on to.

    But what little there is to hold on to is both enjoyable and sophisticated. Angelina Jolie, who plays Christine, gives a convincing portrayal of a mother who returns home from work to find that her son Walter is missing. In fact, Jolie might have scored a career best performance with Changeling, but it is hard to say whether or not this is enough to carry the film.

    Jolie holds her head high as a mother who loses her son and receives little help from the Los Angeles Police Department during the search. The 1920s were wrought with scandal for the L.A.P.D. and Christine Collins find herself in the midst of them. After months of search, the police return Walter to Christine only to find that she denies that he is her son. Despite the mounting evidence supporting her claim (her Walter is uncircumcised, the new Walter is not; the new Walter is 3 inches shorter, etc.), the police continually deny that there is anything wrong. Because of the recent scandals, the L.A.P.D does not want to admit any wrongdoing with the Collins case.

    The tone of this story seems to border between over-the-top melodrama and a dead-on homage to 1930s dramatic style. This is most notable in the scenes featuring Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) whose performance is cookie-cutter bad cop for the period. Eastwood navigates the "bad cops" with ease and never allows them to become satire, but it borders on the edge. Likewise with the necessary court scenes in the latter portion, Eastwood makes the material work, even if just barely. It is hard to diminish the negative affects of these melodramatic choices, but then again, it is a story about true events. Who am I to say whether or not the courtroom proceedings actually had that much fervor and zest? It is hard to find fault in conceivable truth.

    Another strong performance in the film comes from John Malkovich as Reverend Gustav Briegleb, a man determined to expose the misdeeds of the Los Angeles Police Department via his radio show. Briegleb vows to help Christine in her quest for her son as he believes that "Walter" is not the same boy. Malkovich gives a convincing role as a man of God, a man of principle, and a man of determination. He plays the hero, but never saddles up his white horse. His heroics come naturally as a man who wants the best for his city and the people within it— his mission is never glitzy, never self-indulgent.

    Malkovich and Jolie together save the one part of the film that could have poisoned the entire piece. When Miss Collins refuses to be quiet on the issue of her son and is convinced by Briegleb to go public with the misdoings of the police, she is whisked off to a mental ward. Until she admits that she is making the whole impostor-son bit up, she will remain in the ward. The mental ward scenes were in complete discord with the rest of the film. The inclusion of stereotypical elements like electro-shock therapy and evil nurses allowed these scenes to toe the line of ridiculousness. If it were not for a convincing and levelheaded performance from Jolie, nothing good would have come from these scenes. And when Malkovich's character swoops in to save her from the grips of the ward and the police, it never once feels trite. Eastwood should really thank these two and consider the possibility of never, ever filming any hospital-like scenes ever again.

    The unsaturated color choice for the film gives an immediate feeling of doom and sadness for the picture, but a more upbeat, stylized look might have complimented the film better. The cinematography attempted to mirror the motif of the film but ended up missing the mark and falling more into dark and muddled than stylistically relevant.

    With the film clocking in a 140 minutes, it is impressive that it never feels that long. Eastwood navigates through a significant chunk of time with little duress and manages to take on a troubling story without being all too troubling. Easily an audience favorite and definite Oscar-bait, as the United States release is set for November under the title "The Exchange." This film is mass of "in-betweens." It is neither complex nor simple; neither heartfelt nor underwhelming. I find it hard to love it, but I do not hate it either. That's the problem: nothing clicks. It is within this realm that I find this film, more than anything else, a tad bit frustrating. It is a virtuous attempt and no doubt going to do well both in box office numbers and with awards. But because of that, I wanted more punch. I wanted more zing, more attitude. The film melts quickly in my mind and becomes just another biopic that might soon be forgotten. A little originality is crucial, especially for a film being considered for the Cannes Film Festival's highest honor. This film leaves me generally satisfied all whist thinking, "Come on, Clint. You could've done better."
  • sclapham22 October 2008
    Summary says it all, this is the most challenging film so far of 2008. Deep and daring, Clint exposes corruption within LAPD in this period piece. Brilliantly executed and finally a performance I appreciate from Angelina. Also stellar performances by John Malkovich, as well as Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Donovan, Michael Kelly, and others. This film drives it home which any parent can appreciate and will remember for some time.

    This is not your typical drama, but also a suspense filled thriller that had people in the theater crying, clapping, and closing their eyes.

    Still need to see The Wrestler, and The road, but as of October 2008, CHANGELING best picture, and very possible, Best Actress Angelina Jolie.
  • Clint Eastwood is one of the legends of the silver screen, from his humble beginnings as the Man With No Name in Sergio Leone westerns to Dirty Harry the kick-butt cop. As a director, he has given us some of the finest stories we could ever see, including the Oscar-winning Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, and the war epic twins Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima. With his new film, he explores the dark side of the earlier part of the twentieth century in Tinseltown (Los Angeles). Taken from true events, the story unfolds that a single mother Christine Collins has lost her nine-year old son, Walter. She asks the LAPD to intervene, and about two months later, her son is returned. Then, she says it isn't her son. She never looks back.

    From the moment the young boy steps off the train, Christine insists to everyone that he is not her son. Unfortunately, the police say she is delusional and just upset. The films leads to the truth of the matter, which is that the corruption in the department has led to them being lackadaisical in their duties. The story moves along fluidly, yet we are never really told the reason that corruption resides.

    Nevertheless, the film is quite an experience. It looks terrific and really feels like the 1920s in Los Angeles. Angelina Jolie is solid as Christine, yet I felt she seemed more whiny at times than desperate. It just didn't move me as strongly as Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. The supporting cast is good as well, especially John Malkovich as the pastor eager to help Christine in the fight against the LAPD. What I really wanted was that emotional pull that Eastwood's other films had. This one seemed a bit cold and ruthless, despite that being its subject material. So, I would say to go and see it; it is definitely worth the 140 minutes. As for Oscar time, I can't say for sure that it will wrap up the big ones such as Best Picture, Director or Actress. It wasn't the strongest campaign I've seen, but then again this has been a weaker year than 2007.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The production design and Angelina Jolie's performance dominate this lengthy but rushed tale by director Clint Eastwood. Los Angeles 1928 is truly stunning. We walk the streets of a Los Angeles we've never seen but it looks and feels eerily real. The magic of CGI used to its best advantage. Then, Angelina Jolie, giving a mature and powerful performance as the victim of a disturbed mind and a corrupt police force. Then, the rest, doesn't seem well thought at all. Doesn't Angeline have a photograph of her son to show everybody that the child delivered by the police is not her son? The children, all of them, look and sound like performers of an elementary school theatrical production. Why I wonder? When the period details in the movie are so accurate, why the heaviest of details, the credibility of the supporting performances, are so weak. The writing doesn't help. The baddies are totally bad and the goodies are totally good. Jeffrey Donovan's corrupt cop is really unforgivable. So on the nose without nuances of any kind. Terrible really and very, very annoying. "Changeling" however survives its movie of the week heart, thanks to a truthful and compelling Angelina Jolie. I'm repeating myself I know but so does the film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    With Changeling Clint Eastwood has yet to end his streak of auspicious film making. Though not one of his best it is certainly worth watching. Changeling is a film about a single mother's (Christine) search for her son with a twist. Rather than the LAPD trying to help her they oppose her. As a result of receiving bad publicity for being unable to find her son Walter after five months, the police deliver Christine her "son". He is not really her son, he is a fraud. Christine immediately recognizes the boy isn't her son and quickly points this out to the police. She realizes she now has to fight the LAPD in order to find out the truth about her son. But with her attempt to fight back and embarrass the LAPD comes intense consequences.

    The acting was rather disappointing in some aspects. For example Jeffrey Donovan was a bit annoying in his role as Captain Jones. His role required him to have some sort of a powerful aura with an intimidation power. Yet to me he was average bringing nothing to the movie not properly portraying a selfish unjust policeman. The star of the movie, Angelina Jolie, was very solid but her performance was not a unique or impossible one to take on by any other actress. She did what she had to do to make the movie a success but she certainly did not take the movie to another level. The one actor that did impress me though was John Malkovich which probably shouldn't be a surprise who i felt should have received more screen time. Unlike Jolie he took the movie to another level. A more serious, suspenseful and intensified level that carried a heightened sense of depth which was was badly missing from a few performances such as Jeffrey Donovan throughout the film. Overall the performances throughout were inconsistent.

    The writing and director of the movie was done very well but it could've used a little more sharpness. At times the movie seemed to be all over place not quite having an identity. Sometimes it was a crime mystery, sometimes a drama, and sometimes it tried too hard to be both. Despite that Clint Eastwood some how keeps Changeling from dramatically falling apart. It almost seems as if Clint Eastwood couldn't make a bad movie even if he tried. At times it flourished and at other times it just didn't feel right. Christine Collins always told her son "You never start a fight but you always finish it." Eastwoods job on this movies seemed quite the contrary, he never quite finished the movie off.

    My rating: 7.7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Clint Eastwood, the master of making depressing films now makes his trilogy: Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and now Changeling. Based of the horrific chicken coop murders from the 1920's in California, we get a deeper insight into one of the mothers of the victims, Christine Collins who is portrayed by Angelina Jolie, queen of the never ending tears. I'm just playing, she does a terrific job and is just so heart breaking to watch her story on film, she gives Christine a lot of character and depth. The film is even made a certain way, a lot of dark colors, it seems as if it was made in old Hollywood, which was a very intelligent way of setting the mood and time of the film. We have some very fine performances pretty much from everyone in this movie. The one flaw I did feel is that the script does have some lines that are a little over done, a little too dramatic, but it really works for the film and story.

    Christine Collins is a single mother in the 1920's, she's a strong woman who is even ahead of some of the men in her line of work as an operator manager. But she's so busy with work that she tries to make time with her son, Walter. One day they are going to go to the movies, but Christine has to go to work, she says she'll meet Walter right back at home, she's late of course and when she gets home, Walter is missing. She calls the police, but they say she has to wait 24 hours. After a few months, the police tell her they've found her son, she couldn't be happier... that is until she sees a boy who is not her son. But the police will not fess up and admit they messed up, so instead of helping Christine, they treat her horribly and throw in her in an insane asylum and quite looking for her son, but the town's Rev. Gustav Briegleb will not give up and expose the police for the horrible people they are and will do anything to help Christine find her son.

    Changeling is a great film, one of the best of 2008, you know this is going to be a big contender for Oscar season. I really enjoyed this film, I have to admit it had me in tears, all that this poor woman went through to find her son, the pain and mental mind, well you know the f word, that the police put her through, I felt so horrible for her. Jeffrey Donovan just plays the ultimate jerk who just keeps playing gaslight on Christine Collins forcing a child who is not her son down her throat. Although I think this film could have been a good comedy if they gave her an Asian baby or something and try to convince her then that that's her son, lol, OK, that was so bad, sorry. But seriously, this is a great film, I do highly recommend that you take the chance to see it in the theater if you can.

    10/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is the first movie I've seen starring Angelina Jolie (the only other movie I've seen her in is 'Beowulf', which doesn't really provide much to compare) and I think that enabled me to see this film without any ingrained expectations or prejudices because I didn't really know what to expect from Jolie or Eastwood.

    In saying that, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and even as it leant towards the three hour mark, I really didn't want it to end because, besides being fiercely involved in the film, I still harboured an idealistic hope that all would be well. I think that even though it was indeed a very dark and bleak film, it wasn't one which outstayed it's welcome by becoming tediously gloomy, because, besides handling the subject matter in a fashion that didn't become completely suffocating, it also compensated the darkness with a grimly bittersweet conclusion and a somewhat hopeful outlook on humanity as not being 'all bad'. In other words, the film delves deeply into the very worst aspects of human action and feeling before eventually resolving to the better, more compassionate aspects to leave us with the view that while some people are terrible, there are good people and there is hope. As Jolie's character, Christine Collins puts it in the last minutes of the film.

    I felt that some of the aspects of this film were so horrific and graphic that they almost touched on Horror in a way. In that way, because some of the subject matter was so gruesome and confronting, it did make it almost unbelievable. After seeing an emotionally charged, dramatic, deeply intense movie like Revolutionary Road and then seeing Changeling, I found that while the subject matter in Changeling was somewhat more horrible, it didn't affect me so much or discomfort me as much. Mostly, I think, because the events were beyond what we expect to be confronted with in a civilised society: the murder of innocent children, a police force which condones violence and terror, the abuse of a mother at her most vulnerable are all things we find almost too horrific to believe and are ones we can't really relate to unless we've been in a similar circumstance, which I hope is not the case.

    In saying that, the emotion was very real. The tension and unease were beautifully used to keep the audience on tenterhooks throughout the movie, always hoping that just around the corner would be Walter Collins, because we follow Christine through so much pain, fear and anguish. Despite this film's subject matter, I did enjoy it and that's not something you can often say about a film containing these sorts of events. The ending message, while certainly not a Hollywood happy ending, was one which really finished off a brilliant movie on a bittersweet, hopeful tone, but one which does not attempt to undo the horrors which unfold in this very unique and enthralling film. Jolie, by the way, was brilliant and I certainly will be keeping an eye out for her in the future to see if she can perform this well again.
  • You must go see this movie. YOU MUST GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!! I'll admit I didn't know what to expect when my wife asked me to go to this movie. And of course having Jolie in it she didn't have to twist my arm to much. We had to go out of town to see it because our local theater wasn't showing it. The acting by Jolie was great. Eastwood's direction was great. And the 20's and 30's look to the movie was so realistic. I learned some things about this time frame by watching this movie. So not only did I enjoy the movie I learned a little bit along the way. This is a Rated R movie so I wouldn't take kids to it because there are a couple disturbing moments in the movie. If this movie doesn't get some Oscar nominations I will be very surprised. GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'Changeling' has a lot going for it in the eyes of the public just being directed by Clint and starring Angelina. Moreover the little-known but true LA story it tells is heartrending. A hard-working single mother in 1928, Christine Collins (Jolie) is forced to work on Saturday in her job as an assistant supervisor at Pacific Telephone and she leaves her young son Walter (Gattlin Griffith) at home. When she comes back he's gone. Five months later the police produce her son, found in another state--only she denies it's her son. The LAPD's reputation is on the line, and they force Christine to take the boy home. Then they try to discredit her as a lazy and unfit mother when she keeps insisting the kid isn't hers. Eventually she tangles more and more with the LAPD, who're going through an especially lawless period under a corrupt chief. They've shot down a lot of criminals in cold blood and swept away the bodies--just so the Force can control all the crooked dealings in town. Their arch-enemy and leader of the public outcry against cop corruption is crusading minister Rev. Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), who seizes upon the Collins case when it becomes public, smelling a rat. After Collins has repeatedly opposed the cops and refused to accept the boy delivered to her--who's three inches too short and circumcised, has different dental work and is unrecognized by his schoolteacher--a willful Irish Captain assigned to this case (Jeffrey Donovan) orders her locked away in a psych ward. A lurid story of child abductions emerges.

    'Changeling,' in the screenplay written by J. Michael Straczynski, is based on contemporary press accounts of what are called the "Wineville Chicken Murders." The mystery of Walter Collins' disappearance vies with the story of police corruption and the secret of the murders for attention, but Strazzynski wisely tells the tale from the viewpoint of Collins' mother, a kind of feminist heroine, since at a time when women tended to keep their mouths shut, she will not be silenced and never gives up. Some of the more gruesome details of the Wineville story are omitted, but sequences that go there still have a horror movie cast to them. The rest is a thriller-cum-police procedural with distinct period sociological elements. But there is skillful handling in the way a far-reaching story begins and ends with the intimate experience of a bereaved mother.

    Eastwood seems to have looked for a story on the order of Fincher's even lengthier 'Zodiac,' but the melodrama and focus on cop-crime in the material relate it to the James Ellroy-based films 'L.A. Confidential' and 'The Black Dahlia.' The psych-ward incarceration sequence takes you straight back to Samuel Fuller's 'Shock Corridor'--at which point things are beginning to seem pretty lurid, and the film almost as manipulative as Fuller's. Nonetheless the style has Eastwood's usual current elegance and clarity. Oxymoron it may seem, but this is lurid, yet (mostly) restrained. After all, this is a tale in which manipulation is being consciously looked at. In an interview at the NYFF, Eastwood pointed out that there was a link with movies like 'Gaslight' that deal with people trying to bend the minds of others: this is what the crooked cops try to force on Catherine, and they win to the extent that she takes the other boy home. And this is the most interesting and unusual aspect of the story.

    The acting is confident, if varied. There are a bunch of young boys who turn in strong, convincing performances, and as manipulative police captain and his chief, Jeffrey Donovan and Colm Feore are reasonable, and Michael Kelley appealing as the good cop who unearths the kidnappings. Newcomer Jason Butler Harner gives a distinctive performance as the wigged-out killer, Gordon Northcott. Amy Ryan is typically strong as another victim of the cops' psych ward incarceration scam. Less successful is John Malkovich in Marcelled wig as the crusading religionist Rev.Briegleb: he just seems too mannered and creepy. Jolie is good, though her appearance is a bit strange: that huge mouth goes oddly with 20's hair styles. At one moment after she was out of the psych ward, I thought she might be locked up a second time--for overacting. Harner gets his chance to chew up the rug himself in his final scene. A little holding back would not have hurt.

    The film is outstanding in its period look; and good, if not perfect, in its period feel. If nothing else you'll remember Catherine Collins quaintly gong back and forth along the lone line of phone operators she supervises--on roller skates. Whole neighborhoods were restored by the filmmakers and streets filled with Model T's and, best of all, old trolley cars. The attempt at period lingo might have been more consistent; but that's a goal rarely achieved. Since the time scheme runs from 1928 to 1935, more mention of the Great Depression surely would also have been in order. Since the screenplay sticks to known facts, there is nothing about Jolie's character before or after the events. This is a good and watchable film, but not up to Eastwood's terrific 2003, 2004 and 2006 efforts. Presented as the mid-point film of the New York Film Festival, already well-publicized at Cannes, 'Changeling' opens nationwide October 31st. Eastwood has already directed two more films, one of which, 'Gran Torino,' he stars in. Even at 78, the man still seems virtually unstoppable.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's ironic that because of the 1950s TV drama "Dragnet," Los Angeles got the reputation of being a city with a squeaky clean, incorruptible police department. It's ironic because nothing could be further from the truth for much of the city's history.

    The 1920s and most of the thirties were particularly lawless decades for LA cops. LA was overflowing with gambling houses and bordellos all operating virtually openly. Cops were involved in one scandal after another, including a police chief caught during Prohibition in the back seat of a police car with a bottle of booze and a half naked hooker; vice squad cops caught up in a badger game targeting a city councilman; and the commander of the police intelligence division convicted of attempted murder in the bombing of the car of a special investigator for the grand jury looking into police corruption.

    One of the hardest incidents to comprehend was the 1928 disappearance of 9-year-old Walter Collins, and his return five months later thanks to the "detective work" of the LAPD. That was a case that might have been completely forgotten by now but for one thing -- the boy's incredulous mother who took one look at the returning kid and said "That's not my son!" What could have prompted the LAPD to substitute another kid for the missing boy? Awash in a constant stream of bad publicity, targeted by reformers and plagued by the fact that it was a department of thieves, thugs, and incompetents, the 1928 department under Chief James "Two Guns" Davis was apparently desperate for any good publicity and returning a missing kid to his hard working, single mom seemed full proof. But for one thing: Mom was tougher than Davis and conducted a non stop crusade to uncover the truth and find her real son.

    Sadly, unfolding at the same time was the repugnant tale of a serial killer operating out of a chicken ranch in nearby Riverside county and how he was abducting and murdering young boys.

    All these elements --the Collins case, the police corruption story and the tale of the serial killer -- are expertly woven together by director Clint Eastwood into a movie that grows more interesting as it goes.

    Expertly cast and beautifully mounted (the art direction is a shoe in for an Oscar nomination)the film nonetheless lives or dies on the performance of Angelina Jolie, who plays the mom, Christine Collins. Many of Jolie's roles don't do much to test her acting chops, this one does and she more than meets the challenge, turning in a beautifully controlled performance that should get her another Oscar nod too.

    If I have a criticism, it is that the movie in the end gives the impression the corruption may have ended when Chief Davis was demoted following the Collins case. He was demoted, to head of the traffic division, but was made Chief again when Frank Shaw became mayor.

    Corruption at city hall and in the police department simply exploded and there were so many abuses by the central vice squad, the Intelligence Division and the "Red Squad" of strike breakers and gun thugs that they eventually led to the 1938 recall of Mayor Shaw and a general house cleaning of the police department, which forced out Davis and more than 40 other high ranking officers.

    But see the movie. This one is certainly worth seeing.
  • Angelina Jolie gives her best performance of her career. While Jolie shows her beauty and classy looks her, she was absolutely picture perfect for the role of the brave, strong & emotional Christina Collins. I praise Clint Eastwood for making this movie and casting great talented actors for supporting: John Malkovich, Michael Kelly, Jeffery Donovan and Jason Butler Harner gives one of the best supporting role performances in a movie. Changeling is beautiful, heartfelt, haunting and amazing brilliant film that captured my heart and made me feel so bad of what happened to Christina Collins. Not only the movie is so amazing, it sends a strong message about how brave single mothers are and would give their life away if their child was found missing or taken. Angelina Jolie did that without overacting, she did everything an actress could do to give the Oscars a hard time and give them some second thoughts of who they would choose. I've seen this three times and I'm very sure that Angelina Jolie deserves the Oscar more than Streep, Winslet, Leo & Hathaway. She was the better of the five, in my opinion.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I liked this movie less and less the longer it went on. Eastwood is an interesting director but his biggest fault lies in his inability to see the woods for the trees. Like the latter-day Spielberg, he just can't bear to end the movie or at least cut out scenes which stretch the patience. There are long, tedious swathes of this movie (the hearings at the end, the trial of the killer) which could have been drastically edited or (in the case of the outcome of the hearings) cut completely and dealt with in text at the end of the movie or in a far more succinct denouement.

    Conversely, there are parts of the story dealt with so briefly that they are simply confusing. The reason why a small boy would pretend to be a missing child, how he got the idea and who encouraged him are inadequately provided, and the solitary scene of the boy being left as collateral in a diner is scant compensation.

    It's a testament to the slightly unfocused film that I felt it necessary to read more about the real case online when I got home, just to fill in the gaps. In my e-travels I found an interview with the screenwriter who says he didn't want to glorify the heinous crimes which formed part of the story, but wanted to focus on the personal tale of Christine Collins and her disappeared son. That's all very well, but it was only really in the scenes involving the crimes that the film really felt alive and driven, instead of melodramatic and pedantic. If I had to see Angelina Jolie slap her heart and shout 'I want MY son!' one more time, I'd had have wanted a refund. Or earplugs.

    Jolie has had loads of plaudits for her role and she was good - but I found her lips so distracting that I can hardly judge. Against a muted 'period' palette, her scarlet protuberances - often in the act of grief-induced quivering - intrude like two giant red jellies in a pot of porridge.

    This is not a bad film - parts of it are very good and some of it is shocking. But someone needs to let Clint Eastwood know the line between drama and melodrama, taking time and tedium, and attention to detail and pedantry.

    I would have given it a 6 but I'm giving it a 5 in an effort to drag the ridiculously high score down to a sensible level as quickly as possible.
  • When my wife and I first heard that another Eastwood film was coming out, we planned to see it. Then we read unremitting negative comments by the critics, so we hesitated. We decided to see the film anyway because we have liked everything Eastwood has directed, and we knew that some of the cast were fine actors. Wow, are we glad we stuck with our first instinct. The film is excellent.

    The critics panned the script, by J. Michael Straczynski. One critic mentioned that Straz wrote Babylon 5 and suggested that was reason enough to expect this script to be bad. In fact, Babylon 5 was very good, and so is the script for this movie. Critics complained about Eastwood's directing, but the directing was fine. Some of the critics complained about the acting, but in fact the acting is flawless. My general impression of critics has been strongly reinforced: they typically are shallow and self-important windbags trying to show off how smart and sophisticated they are. They should be ignored.

    The story itself is sad, uplifting, disturbing, and bittersweet all at the same time. It is, sad to say, a true story.

    The characters come across as real people, as is typical for Eastwood's films. Every single actor delivers exactly the right performance for the role being played. Indeed, the acting is the best part of this movie, though I do not mean to diminish any other aspect of the film by saying that. There are several children in the film who have significant parts, often with lines that must convey genuine emotions of fear or remorse. Not easy stuff for a kid to get right, yet all of them do their jobs very well. That is partly a tribute to Eastwood's directing, showing his ability to elicit strong performances from his actors.

    There is no point listing every actor here and praising their performances one by one. They were all outstanding. I will single out Angelina Jolie for special mention, though. She is the main character, and her performance is simply superb. Her range of emotions is truly remarkable. What a fine actress she is.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Clint Eastwood returns to "Mystic River" territory in this period piece that digs deeper into LAPD's past in corruption. Anybody who thought that LAPD's bad reputation is recent would be shocked to find that it was as bad in the 1920's. Angelina Jolie delivers a powerful performance as a wronged mother whose son disappears. To add insult to the injury she's further abused by the LAPD who instead of finding her missing son, trying to use her for their benefit. The film has some minor problems with its length and the overbearing score by Eastwood as well but hopefully it will get fixed before its release in the fall. YRCinema's coverage of the Cannes Film Festival. For more coverage please visit http://yrfilms.blogspot.com/.
  • poe4262 May 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    This one caught me completely by surprise. I can vouch for the fact that for a woman to lose a child, even in the course of as natural an act as childbirth (it happened to my mother), can be devastating (and the kind of thing that can haunt her for the rest of her natural life). To lose a child the way the real Ms. Collins did is even worse. Ask John Walsh. I'd never heard of "the chicken coop murders" before. It's amazing to think that something of such magnitude might've been consigned to the fires of forgetfulness if not for a writer happening across a pile of discarded paperwork... Even more amazing was the way Ms. Collins, so ably played by Angelina Jolie, soldiered on. Women are often capable of a kind of strength men can't match. (Just today, I saw my wife stand in line FOR SIX HOURS, in triple-digit heat, at a local church in the hopes of getting some dental work done... only to be turned away at literally the last moment. How she didn't break down is beyond me. Literally.) CHANGELING is a left hook to the chin that you just don't see coming: it undoes dental work, and it's the kind of movie you don't forget easily.
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