Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review: Changeling (2008)

Changeling is about a mother who loses her son and the never-ending quest she embarks upon to find him.

But what it's really about is a 1928 Los Angeles and its corrupt police force and the lengths some people will go to bring them to justice.

Angelina Jolie is Christine Collins in this tale, and delivers a heartbreaking performance. Seriously, she is good. At first all is well with her and her little son Walter, until she returns home from work one night to find him missing. She notifies the police and does whatever she can to carry on her life while fervently pursuing the search for her child. At first, the film is sad and poignant. One woman's quiet struggle to find the one thing most dear to her is touching and captivating.

When she is notified one day at work by the captain of the police force that her son has been found, it's the most beautiful and raw moment of the film. And this is also where it starts to become undone. She is confronted with a boy who is spectacularly not her son. She insists, but is jerked around by the LAPD into admitting in front of the press that it IS indeed her son. She smiles for the camera. This is where the story of a mother looking for her lost child ends and the other story begins.

John Malkovich is criminally under-utilized. He plays the soldiering Pastor of a local church, who will stop at nothing to bring down the law. Along the way we meet more police officers, more kids, more wronged women, and are still met with no results.

This movie reminded me a lot of Zodiac. It constantly introduces new characters, new storylines, and new information which makes it all very hard to keep track of. Okay, so this film is a little easier to keep track of, but the ending is just as open-ended.

Director Clint Eastwood does alright here. He gets the period down, he gets the music down, he gets the performances down. However his story is too convoluted; there are actually 2 major storylines at one point in the movie, when there should only be one.

Grade: B-

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