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CAN: Changeling



Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich

PLOT: In the 1920’s Christine Collins’ (Angelina Jolie) son disappears. The police eventually “find” and “return” her offspring months later, but is it TRULY her son? MMMMMMMM!

CRITIQUE: The first time I heard about Eastwood’s follow up to the tight MILLION DOLLAR BABY, CHANGELING (or is it THE EXCHANGE as it’s called in Cannes right now), I of course thought it was a remake of the George C. Scott genre classic THE CHANGELING. Thankfully, I was wrong (enough of remakes already), and Eastwood the filmmaker offers us yet another engrossing picture with his mature vibe stamped all over it.

Before entering the theatre this morning, I still had zero idea as to what this film was about and to be honest, my ignorant bliss definitely jacked up my viewing experience. So I will do my best to be vague here in the name of doing the same service for you. CHANGELING was a dramatic thriller (and semi mystery) that took me for a bumpy and emotionally charged ride. Based on a true story (sad to think that something this horrible went down in the simpler times that were the 20’s), CHANGELING faultlessly reflected its period (I adored the attention to details when it came to the sets/costumes), political climate and the police corruption that came with it. With that said, the flick was first and foremost a gripping character driven piece (and study) having to do with a woman’s, scratch that, a MOTHER'S ordeal.

I actually got shades of ROCKY while watching this one. Not that Jolie slipped on boxing gloves and went to town on her persecutors, but in the sense that her character had the odds stacked against her (remember the flick is set in 20’s – women’s lib hit in the mid 70’s) but she still wouldn’t stop fighting. Big props to Angelina Jolie, for what is easily the best performance of career (although I will always have a soft spot for her sexy romp in GIA). Strong, endearing, vulnerable, Jolie tackled her layered role like a champ, communicated her character's evolution to a T and had me rooting for her the whole way. What a performance!

Visually, Eastwood was on top of his game (and I got 5 dollars and 69 cents that the Academy will be knocking on his door for this one), offering up a rich, colorful yet somehow still oppressive show (yep, the man's got skills behind the lens) that kept my retinas where they belonged – on the screen. The same can be said about the stellar score at hand (composed by The Man With No Name himself). It effortlessly supported and often elevated the film’s emotional core like all potent score’s should.

On a slight negative note, the film did lose some steam at certain points and I felt it. The words “get on with it already” popped in my mind a couple of times. In my opinion, it could’ve had 15 minutes or so shaved off its back in the name of pacing. Finally, a handful of the side characters had paper and thin written all of them. Granted, they served their purpose when it came to helping move the story forward but I can’t say the characters themselves were too memorable. Thank Zeus for the fine casting, which often made the one note characters more interesting than they should've been.

On the whole, CHANGELING was a well written (screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski really aced this one), superbly acted (next to Jolie, Amy Ryan impressed me the most here) and wholly engaging piece of celluloid drama. It was a rough way to start the day but I esteemed the rewarding pummeling none the less.

RATING: 8.5/10





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