Movie Review: Changeling

Rule out critics’ censure about Changeling and divide the film into its two most important and thought-provoking characteristics: the tale and the performances.

It did not occur to me that the movie dragged along –a complaint murmured by moviegoers when the lights came up. I can see their point – everyone can’t wait for the ending and it seems like a lifetime to get to it – yet I sat captivated in my seat.

This movie expects more from its audience than the mediocre movie experience. The story and performances are more intriguing than the visual effects and short, meaningless dialogue that modern moviegoers are used to. Yes, you actually have to think while watching this film.

This should be expected by Clint Eastwood, the director, who also directed Letters from Iwo Jima – another film seen as boring for the wrong reasons. It is the story that makes his films award-winning.

The tale in Changeling is horrific and arcane. The performances are powerful. I think my heart stopped beating a few times because of the intensity behind some of the visuals. At one point, the camera follows a man about to be hung as if the viewer is in the man’s shoes. The simulated feeling of walking to the gallows made my stomach turn. Keep in mind that the film is based on a true story and you might not be able to blink.

Christine Collins, played by Angelina Jolie, is thrown into a whirlwind of injustice and confusion, downtrodden by the corrupt Los Angeles Police Department in the late 1920’s. Collins’ son goes missing and it takes a priest to help her expose the police department’s dishonest behavior.

The characters and moviegoers experience the same satisfaction when the bad guys get what they deserve. Add in a little female power and divine justice and you get a satisfying, not-what-you-wanted-to-happen ending.

Whoever Christine Collins is, Jolie made her beautiful, strong and hopeful. Jolie endured plenty of crying which complimented her broken character. Otherwise, she began and ended looking exquisite in the film.

John Malkovich will always be Athos in The Man in the Iron Mask to me, which means that he did not make a better impression. But hands-down, his performance in Changeling as a striking and strident priest will always stick in the back of my mind.