Sunday, November 2, 2008


Today I saw the film Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie.

In March of 1928, mother Christine Collins came home from work to find her son, Walter Collins, missing. 5 months later, the LAPD contacted her and assured her that they had indeed found her son in a small town in Illinois. When she was brought to meet with him, the boy was not her son. She confronted the LAPD, and they dismissed her despite an array of physical differences between the two boys. When she persisted, they had her commited to the local mental hospital. She was only released when the news of a child serial killer broke, and her real son was suspected of being one of the victims. She then went on to persure justice through various trials which eventually had the Chief of Police demoted, and the Captain she'd been dealing with fired. She never found her son.

While the title of the film leaves something to be desired, sounding a bit like an old science fiction movie, the film itself, in my opinion makes up for it. Whether it's because I'm uneducated when it comes to movies, or it was just a great film, I don't know. All I do know is that I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and there were a LOT of minutes. The movie clocked in at 2 hours and 21 minutes, and I didn't check my phone for the time once. That in my opinion is an accomplishment all on it's own. I wasn't sure about this movie to begin with. I'd read a review in the NY Times that didn't paint a very pretty picture, saying Jolie had "overacted" her character of wronged mother Christine Collins, and she should stick to her Wanted-esque movie style (see also Laura Croft). I honestly couldn't disagree more with that description. I felt that Angelina Jolie triumphed in this movie role. She played off the dramatic femme fatal beautifully. She could portray more with just a look than most actresses can with minutes of dialogue. Her pain was evident in every frame and she never broke character. She didn't overact, didn't underact, but found a very appealing equilibrium. I was never bored watching her. It seems like it would be hardest to play the role of a tragedy when the tragedy was based on truth.

John Malkovich also had an apearance playing the sympathetic reverand Gustav Briegleb. His role was one of compassion and rightousness as he tried to unearth the greed and corruption of the Los Angeles Police Department. Malkovich toed the line between sypathizer and activist nicely, and his performance made a nice addition to the film. He was also responsible for some of the more cutting jabs at the current political situation, and made subtle satire of the relationship between church and state.

Another star performance was made by Jason Butler Harner, who portrayed the child serial killer Gordon Northcott. Very rarely do we see a serial killer acted in such a way that they make out toes curl and our stomaches ache with disgust. Often they are written in this way, but the actors who are chosen to perform don't deliver. In this case, Jason Butler Harner delivers with a force. His character is aggitated, immature, terrified, arrogant and oblivious simultaneously. His apathy towards his actions is staggering, and you wonder how anyone could play such a sociopathic character and be sane themselves. His sociopathic tendencies are only shadowed by the cowardice that run in his veins. His death is both distrubing, but also a welcome relief from the disturbing imagery associated with him.

I could quite possibly be biased for this movie for the sole reason that it was the first REALLY good movie I've seen since The Dark Knight. Spring/Summer movie season is generally dissapointing with it's heavy reliance on Comicbook character movies to see it through. I'm all for a good comedy, but give me a nail-biting drama and I'll be much happier. Changeling is in most respects a good movie, and it was refreshing to be able to sit through a movie and come out feeling like I'd spent my money and time wisely. I feel like this film should be nominated for at least one or two oscars. I'm not going to go so far as to assume Angelina Jolie will be nominated for Best Actress (even though I think she deserves it), but at very least Clint Eastwood should be nominated for Best Director, and I personally feel like the film should be nodded at for Best Costume Design.

I give it an 8/10.

The movie's worth the 7 bucks, I say GO!

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