Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Changeling”

(Universal. 2 hours, 21 minutes. Rated R for violent and disturbing content, and language. Directed by Clint Eastwood.) Angelina Jolie (Christine Collins), John Malkovich (Rev. Gustav Briegleb), Colm Feore (Chief James E. Davis), Amy Ryan (Carol Dexter), Jeffrey Donovan (Capt. J.J. Jones), Jason Butler Harner (Gordon Northcott). Music by Clint Eastwood.

Well-meaning film didn’t quite move me, despite a valiant effort from all concerned. Jolie plays a woman in 1928 Los Angeles whose 9-year-old son is kidnapped; months later, a child is returned to her, but she claims the boy isn’t her son. She spends the rest of the movie pushing the authorities to keep looking, and accepting the (sometimes-harrowing) consequences. Eastwood (who doesn’t play an onscreen role), now 78, is directing a little too leisurely from a repetitive script which is based on a true story. Pacing, people, pacing: at 141 minutes, this is way too long. Jolie, except in a couple of scenes, seems too subdued (those cloche hats and baggy shift dresses are flapper-period costuming, yes, but she’s very thin here and looks swallowed up in them). Also, most of the characters are too one-dimensional: for example, I would have liked more depth from Malkovich’s character, the crusading radio preacher who sides with Jolie. One standout is Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) in a small role during a mental hospital sequence. Another plus is that Eastwood’s composing skills are improving; he handles the music well here. I have better hopes for his next movie due in January, Gran Torino, in which he plays a bigot.

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