Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Imagine your child is missing - he’s supposed to be in the house when you get home from work, but the house is empty.  You’ve scoured the neighborhood for him, checked with his friends and with your neighbors, and yet there is still no sign of your child.  What do you do?  You call the police, of course.  Your child’s photo and information are distributed to all of the officers in the area, posted on websites and milk cartons, shown on the local news, etc.  Now imagine that the police report they have found your son.  You wait in anticipation for the joyful reunion with your child.  Now imagine that the child the police return to you is not your child.  Imagine that the police force this child upon you.  What do you do?

            In 1928, Christine Collins, a single mother, begrudgingly left her young son at home while she took an extra shift at her job supervising telephone operators in a company located in Los Angeles.  When she returned home from work, Christine discovered that her son was gone.  She checked the neighborhood, but found no sign of him.  Thinking she was doing the right thing, she called the LAPD for assistance.  They told her they had to wait 24 hours before he could truly be reported missing.  When Christine’s son had still not returned the next day, the LAPD mobilized.

            Christine hoped against hope that her son would be found and some time later, she was contacted by the police.  It seemed that her prayers had been answered and Christine’s son was found…or was he?  When Christine Collins is re-introduced to her son at a train station filled with reporters (an LAPD publicity stunt), she discovers that the LAPD had the wrong child.  Telling the LAPD brass does no good - they try to convince her that this is her son, despite the growing evidence to the contrary.

            This is a day and age when the LAPD was at an all-time low in public opinion and the big brass was not about to admit to an error of such a great proportion.  But how can Christine allow the LAPD to force an unknown boy upon her when her son was still out there somewhere, no longer being searched for by the police department.  Unfortunately, Christine must learn the hard way what it is like to stick to your guns against a corrupt entity bent on “making this all go away.”

            Changeling is a dramatic film based upon a true story.  Christine Collins is expertly portrayed by Angelina Jolie who plays a very different person in this film.  This is not Angelina Jolie showing off her sexiness while playing a dramatic or action-packed role.  No, this is an Angelina Jolie forgoing her looks to pour every ounce of drama into her role.  Perhaps she drew on her experience as a mother to put some very real feeling into the role.  Whatever the case, I must applaud her efforts in conveying the agony and angst felt by Christine Collins at the loss of her child.

            Despite the fact that he is a handsome actor, Jeffrey Donovan’s performance as the corrupt LAPD Captain J.J. Jones is so well done that you instantly hate him.  John Malkovich portrays Reverend Gustav Briegleb, an evangelist who aides Christine Collins by publicizing yet another act of corruption and ignorance performed by the LAPD.  His performance is brief and overpowered by that of Jolie.  In fact, Jolie overpowers every actor’s performance in this film. It’s no wonder that she garnered so many award nominations for the role.  Unfortunately, she was up against Kate Winslet for her performance as Hanna Schmitz in The Reader…’nuff said.

            Changeling, a movie directed and produced by Clint Eastwood (Ron Howard also has a producing credit), is an amazingly dramatic film made even more dramatic by the fact that it is based upon a true story.  That such bumbling corruption could have truly existed is very hard to swallow and yet, the evidence is all there before us.  Yes, some facts were changed a tad, but the premise is still the same and still very difficult to face.  The movie definitely makes you wonder exactly what you would do if you were faced with the same situation. 

            The premise of Changeling is captivating and the acting amazing.  The cinematography aides in enhancing the drama of the film, as does the soundtrack.  I would expect nothing less than greatness from a Clint Eastwood film and I would have to say that Changeling has reached that greatness level quite easily.  This is one movie you do not want to miss.


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