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Movie review by: Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
"Changeling" by Mike Smith
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It’s a parent’s worse nightmare. One day your child just vanishes. You search and search and pray and pray and hope for a miracle. And when that miracle comes, all is right with the world again. But what if the miracle is just an extension of the nightmare?
March 10, 1928. Single mother Christine Collins (Jolie), a supervisor for the telephone company, is called into work. She had planned to take her 9 year old son, Walter (Gattlin Griffith) to the movies and promises him they’ll go the next day. When Christine returns home that afternoon, Walter is nowhere to be found. After a search of the neighborhood she calls the police, only to be told they won’t do anything until the boy has been missing for 24 hours. And so begins the nightmare. Four months later Christine receives a phone call telling her Walter has been found. A great reunion is planned at the local train station. But when Christine sees the boy she is shocked to discover that it’s not her son.
As he has in years past with films like “Mystic River,” “Million Dollar Baby” and the double-shot of “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima,” director Clint Eastwood once again fires the first shot in the Oscar battle. His attention to character development and visual detail continue to astound, cementing his reputation as one of the great filmmakers of the past two decades. His job is made easier thanks to the outstanding performance delivered by Jolie. With all of the attention paid to her private life, it’s very hard to forget that Jolie is an Academy Award winning actress. She should have been nominated last year for her role in “A Mighty Heart,” and almost certainly will be recognized for her work here. Even though she knows the boy returned to her is not her son (the police captain (Donovan) tells her to take the youngster home on a “trial basis”) her motherly instincts will not allow her to neglect him. As Christine becomes more vocal about the mystery boy she is bullied by the police and even placed against her will in the local psychiatric hospital. Her cause is taken up by the Reverend Gustav Briegleb (Malkovich), a radio preacher who has made ending the corruption inside the Los Angeles police department his mission. Clues discovered by another detective (Michael Kelly) working on a serial murder case are woven into the story, adding even more layers to the mystery.
As usual, Eastwood has surrounded himself with pros behind the camera as well. Kudos to Tom Stern, who has worked with Eastwood since 1982’s “Honkytonk Man” and been his director of photography since 2002, for capturing the true feel of 1928 Los Angeles. Special mentions also to production designer James Murakami and costumer Deborah Hopper, also Eastwood veterans, for their eye for detail in bringing the period to life. And while I’m patting Clint on the back, another bow in his direction for his sparse, but moving, musical score. For the curious, the film is based on the true events of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, whose story is as amazing to read as the film is to watch.
With four Oscars on his mantle already, at age 78 Clint Eastwood may need to make room for more. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give “Changeling”
This week's movie review of "Changeling" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith. All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.