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When Changeling was released, there was quite a bit of hype about it. It falls between the genres of mystery and drama, with history thrown in for good measure due to the era it was set in. It was directed by Clint Eastwood, and it being based on a true story is quite shocking to know after you've watched the film. Changeling throws us in to 1928 Los Angeles, where we?re introduced to Christine Collins, a single working mother. Everything is good between mum and her 9 year old son, until she returns home from work one day to find him gone. She feels guilty & is out of her mind with worry.
A call to the Police doesn?t get her very far; a missing person report can?t be filed so quickly so she?ll have to wait until tomorrow. She?s told he?ll come back soon enough and not to worry. When the next day comes around, the LAPD start a search with lasts over the coming weeks. The weeks turn to months until, 5 months later, a boy is discovered matching her son?s description in Illinois. Christine is obviously over the moon, fainting with relief that her son is alive and well, and eager to meet him off the train. The media and police are gathered for the reunion, but Christine isn?t smiling; although the boy is saying she?s his mum, she doesn?t recognise him. Telling everyone he isn?t her son, the response of the police is to tell her that the boy has changed after being away from home and that she?s experienced great trauma. Just give it time. The question is, is it her son? If not, where is he?
It?s an interesting premise whether you?re a parent yourself or not. It?s definitely a historical drama piece, but there?s suspense, a crime / detective dimension, and psychological undertones.
As for the pace, it was fairly steady throughout but specific incidents had a heightened impact and kept things fresh and intriguing. I wouldn?t say I found myself getting bored because I was involved with the characters and wanted to find out what would happen next.
The downside? For me, it was the boy who played her son, ie. The boy that was reunited with Christine that she didn?t believe to be her son. I found him to be quite wooden, not very believable, and I kept wondering why that angle wasn?t explored a bit more.
The starred Angelina Jolie as protagonist Christine Collins, however each actor/actress played their respective roles well. It didn?t feel overly Hollywood-esque. Jolie was fantastic, giving a poignant and memorable performance. I could empathise with her as this distraught mother and felt her portrayal was quite believable.
All in all, despite my dislike for one character, Changeling was a memorable movie that I enjoyed watching because it offered an intriguing premise, kept me engaged, and produced a fantastic performance from Jolie.
Changeling is one of those films that I have been wanting to watch since I first saw it advertised, but I have only recently got round to watching the 2008 film starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich. I am not a great fan of John Malkovich as his work is often very surreal. I do however really like watching Angelina Jolie. Not only is she a beautiful woman, she is also very talented. A lot of people think of her in roles like Tomb Raider and Gone in 60 seconds, but forget about such gems as The Bone Collector alongside Denzel Washington in 1999, where she has more than proved that she is a talented and credible actress.
This is the kind of film that I can't see appealing to everyone. Firstly, its based on a true life story, which is not everyone's cup of tea. In it's favour though, this is the big budget Hollywood version, and not the straight to the 3pm on Channel 5 version.
The subject matter might not be to everyone's taste either with some strong moral issues being covered. I definitely found it hard to watch at points.
Set in LA, in 1928, Jolie plays Christine Collins, a single mother working as a switchboard operator. She lives with her 9 year old son Walter. One day she returns home from her job to discover that Walter is missing from home, which is very out of character for her son.
The police do not take her complaint of a missing child very seriously at all. 4 months after his disappearance, a vagrant child is found claiming to be the missing Walter Collins. An emotional reuinion is planned at the train station with the press in attendance to make it look as if the police are doing a great job.
Immdediately upon sighting the boy, Mrs Collins informs the police this is not her son. The police officer, keen not to cause a scene in front of the press persuades her she is mistaken, and she should take the child home anyway.
Mrs Collins is now very convinced that the child is not hers, and she cannot understand why the police will not take her seriously. She keeps pushing against the authority in an effort to get them out looking again for her real son, but instead, they question her sanity and if she is having some sort of breakdown rather than admit that they might actually be wrong.
The film follows Jolie as Collins as she fights to prove that she is sane, and to get to the bottom of why her son is missing from home. She will not accept that he might be dead, as it doesn't feel right to her.
This film was quite a long one with a running time of 141 minutes. Although it was a good story for me, it could have been edited down a little in my opinion to make it a little less bum numbing without detracting any from the plot.
The acting in the film was strong from the adult characters, and of a good quality from the children in the film. While I have occasionally seen better, I am more likely to see worse acting from the children of this sort of age.
The story being set in 1928 was apparent with the great stylish costumes shown, particularly those worn by Jolie. While I am not an expert in 1920s fashion, she looked very dignified and proper, and definitely made me think of these times. The sets were interesting to look at from this point of view, with Jolie in the telephone exchange in particular and running for a tram. You definitely felt it was a good portrayal of that time in history.
The content of the story was a little difficult to watch in places, as you were led through scenarios of the fate that might have befallen Walter. The hardest part is the not knowing. Any mother watching this would definitely relate to the anguish she was going through waiting for any scrap of information to either let her know, or let her have a little bit of hope. The trial scenes of the suspect involved in the case, Gordon Northcott are also highly uncomfortable as you do question the sanity of the man, and if he is also perhaps a convenient scapegoat when the police department are under pressure from the public to pull up their socks.
Malkovich has a serious believable role too, as the Reverend of a local church who believes right from the start that Mrs Collins is telling the truth, and that the police are in the wrong. While part of what he is doing is trying to help her, you do also see he is using her too as a way of pushing his own agenda in his Parish.
The only problem I had with this film is that it felt very unresolved for me. This can't be helped as it follows the true life events that were unresolved, but I definitely had a disturbed sense of how Christine Collins must have felt at the way things were left.
I think this is one of the better films I have watched recently. While uncomfortable, it was a stark reminder that a Mother really does know her child the best, and it was a relief to me that women in society are now taken a lot more seriously and that I feel free to say what I like without fear someone will question my sanity if they don't like what I am saying.
As a mother, I would definitely have pushed and pushed too as Christine did as it would eat away at you not knowing. I would not be able to go about my life without an answer.
- Cast/Credits -
- Story -
Christine Collins is a single mother living in LA. She's suddenly called in to work an extra shift at her workplace at a telephone exchange and so, knowing her son is quite intelligent and grown up, she decides to leave him at home, however she regrets this after she comes home that evening to discover the home empty and no-one seems to know his whereabouts.
She phones the LAPD to file a missing persons report but they down play it and say that she cant file a report until the next day, assuring her that he'll turn up overnight, however he doesn't and so the report is filed. Months later, she's told that a child claiming to be her son has been found and so she's reunited with the child, who she knows instinctively isn't her own flesh and blood but for fear of embarrassment, the LAPD strictly deny her outcries that she's been given the wrong child back and that they must re-open the case again. From then on, things go from bad to worse, with Christine being viewed in an increasingly cold and judgemental way and all the while, no-one in power is looking for her son - can her real son be identified? is Christine wrong about the child she was reunited with and why are the LAPD so quick to deny her claims? you'll have to watch the movie to find out.
- Thoughts/Opinions -
*Be warned, there are some minor spoilers present in this section*
Angelina Jolie gives a good performance in this movie as the rightfully upset and very frustrated Christine Collins, who is determined to find her son and highlight how crooked the LAPD is/was. This movie is apparently based on a true story set in the late 1920s and it certainly puts a chill down your spine to see the sorts of things that went on, with the LAPDs treatment of women. Its a reflection of the times in terms of sexism in a more general way as well, I feel, not just in relation to the LAPD specifically but obviously back then women had less rights and men would probably think less of them than now, things weren't as equal for the sexes as they are now. Its quite disturbing to see the scenes set in the psych ward and to learn what we learn - certainly the term abuse of power is valid and indeed its the main theme present in this movie.
I think Christine is, in a way, a hero figure, certainly to other women, who will likely be able to identify with her, especially mothers and single mothers - to go through the trauma of losing your only child is clearly a very upsetting and worrying ordeal but to be presented, months after the disappearance, with a child who your sure isn't your own flesh and blood, although the authorities won't take this and do everything in their power to persuade you otherwise - well, you can only imagine what that must be like - very troubling and frustrating. I found myself quite engrossed in this movie, sharing many of Christine's emotions, willing her to get to the bottom of what happened to her beloved son Walter while also learning with her about whats going on behind the scenes, so to speak and it was quite satisfying to see how some members of the community reacted to her plight, agreeing to help her on her mission to prove the child she'd been assured is hers, is in no way related to her. This is no mean feat and as the plot unravels, is quite shocking, disturbing even to see how far those in authority go to prove to Christine that she's wrong and given the fact that this movie claims to be based on a true story, its sad to think that such things may have happened.
This is, of course, quite a dark movie and there are some scenes which make for uncomfortable viewing, including one of a person being hanged which was quite disturbing (I always thought that death was immediate from hanging but apparently not - yes, its not nice to watch) and one or two sudden flashback scenes as well. To be honest, the themes present are probably more disturbing than said scenes but I thought its worth mentioning all the same.
The movie is quite long, at around about 2 hours and 20 minutes and I think it was perhaps a bit long drawn out, although on the other hand if it were cut back more than by perhaps 15 minutes or so, it may seem a bit convenient and rushed - still the story moves fairly slowly and if you rely on action and visual effects to keep you from being distracted then this might be an issue for you, not that you should expect such things from a movie like this but again, its perhaps worth mentioning. I also felt that the story was a bit unclear in one or two parts, though things became clearer later on, however I should probably admit that I had an issue with the DVD being scratched and a few times it would refuse to play and I'd have to skip the affected part on the disk so that was probably part to blame, I missed probably 10 mins max. of the movie but then in a way it was good for me as the movie ended a bit earlier than I expected overall - I still saw the majority of it and I feel I can still review it well enough.
I haven't mentioned the ending yet, so I'll mention it now. I imagine that the ending divided opinon - I suppose its not dreadfully bleak yet its not fully a Hollywood ending either, in that the viewer is left with unanswered questions - even though there's an update of sorts written across the scene just before the credits roll. Ultimately, its up to you as the viewer to come to your own conclusions about certain aspects but I thought it was nice that the ending mentions what became of some characters (I suppose thats the more 'Hollywood' aspect of it).
- Would I Recommend it? -
Yes, I'd recommend this movie, as I found myself quite engrossed in the story and I thought that the main character, Christine, was well portrayed. The fact that it is, apparently, based on a true story, makesit more chilling and I think the themes present are quite important (the messages at play are ones that people should be aware of even in the present day) and for other women, it makes you think about how we were perceived in the past and the progress thats been made - although Christine was perhaps doing well as a successful businesswomen in the late 1920s which was quite possibly not often the case for women back then, the way that her actions were downplayed and perceived, it is disturbing.
This is a rather long movie which is perhaps a little long drawn out and you may be slightly disappointed by the ending, that depends but if this really intrigues and interests you based on what I've said, then yes I'd recommend it.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful and thanks for all rates and comments which are gratefully received. This review may be posted on DooYoo UK under the same name at a later date. ..
I've never watched a Clint Eastwood film without wanting to smash my TV into a million pieces. I can't stand Angelina Jolie. As a rule, I'm not that keen on films that bare the legend "based on a true-story". Particularly period dramas. Not a good basis then to sit down and watch Changeling, a 2008 drama directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Angelina Jolie, and based on real events in 1920s Los Angeles.
Nonetheless, in the interests of earning my next shiny Dooyoo coin, broadening my film horizons, enlightening the masses, and because it somehow managed to turn up on my Lovefilm list, this is the unwelcome prospect I found myself facing last night. And it turned out to be one of the best films I've watched all year.
We all know that when a film is advertised as being "based on a true story", "inspired by real events", etc, what we actually get is a movie that has been Hollywoodized beyond all resemblance of anything that might ever actually have happened. The Changeling is an exception. Writer J. Michael Straczynski apparently spent a year of his life meticulously researching the real events and claimed to have drawn 95% of the script from 6000 pages of documentation.
Changeling was only ever meant to be a temporary title. However, despite conjuring up misleading images of shapeshifting aliens it is actually quite apt; a changeling is a creature found in Western European folklore that is secretly left in the place of a human child.
Angelina Jolie stars as Christine Collins, a single mother whose life is turned upside down when she experiences every parent's nightmare; after returning late from work she discovers her nine year old son Walter (Gattlin Griffith) is missing. The much-maligned Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) initiate a nationwide search.
Soon, their investigations bear fruit; Christine receives word that they have found her son. Joy turns to despair however, when Collins discovers they have found the wrong child.
The boy, however, claims to be her missing son and the Police are adamant they have done the necessary checks and put any confusion down to changes in the boy in the 5 months he has been away, along with the trauma Christine has been suffering. The confused and distraught woman, under pressure from the Police and the surrounding media circus, agrees to take the boy on a "trial basis".
Upon returning home, Christine's misgivings are confirmed when the boy turns out to be several inches shorted than her son, and has other physical differences that are impossible to explain.
However, when she tries to explain the mistake to the LAPD, they refuse to take her seriously. The more vocal she becomes, the more aggressively they push back, first condemning her as an unfit mother then throwing her into an asylum as a mad-woman. There, she finds out the way she has been treated is pretty much standard practice. Say something the police don't like, particularly as a woman, and this where you'll end up; tortured, humiliated and abused on a regular basis.
Every turn seems to lead down another dead end as she battles valiantly against at what first seems to be an incompetent Police force but turns out to be something much bigger. She faces a battle against a corrupt government, brutal police force and her own sanity to get back her son.
Meanwhile Detective Lester Ybarra arrests a Canadian boy on a ranch in Wineville. The boy, clearly distraught, reveals horrific and grisly crimes he has been forced to carry out by his adult compatriot Gordon Northcott. His revelations tie in with Walter's disappearance and throw the whole case into a disturbing new direction. Northcott's case would go on to become one of the most infamous criminal investigations in 1920s America.
Jolie's performance in this film is nothing short of incredible. She was picked from a host of applicants (Reese Witherspoon included) mainly because her looks were thought by Eastwood to fit the period well, but she brings so much more to the role than that. Rather than taking the easy route and playing the part as a weak and hysterical mother, Jolies' Collins is instead tough, resilient and resourceful. It is a beautifully understated portrayal of a reserved young woman whose life is thrown into turmoil as she becomes a political pawn. Her performance as a single-minded mother is powerful, believable and compelling.
She is well supported by superb performances all round. From the child actors to veteran John Malkovich, who plays one of Christine's few allies, crusading preacher Rev Gustav Briegleb, the performances are spot on. Of particular note is Harner's sinister performance as Northcott; smarmy and self-pitying, he seems detached from the sane world.
This is a difficult story to tell and could have been clumsy and confused. However the two storylines are interwoven with skill and attention. Despite all the atrocities, power games and political struggles, the viewer is never distracted from the main story - a desperate mother's determination to get back her son at all costs. For this reason we discover very little about Northcott's background, which is a shame but would have made an already lengthy film at 141 minutes, too long and convoluted.
As it is, the film is the perfect length to tell its tale. The pace is leisurely but relentless, the direction economic, and the score reflective and undramatic. Colours are atmospheric soft pastels which are perfect for the period. Costume design and production provides a perfect representation of pre-war Los Angeles. Occasionally, the set does feel a little less than "lived-in" - with shiny new cars and perfect clothes but that's a minor criticism; the attention to detail is first rate here.
In a way though the time-frame is irrelevant. The grief and desperation over a lost child is the same whatever decade you come from and Jolie portrays the anguish perfectly. Similarly, the government corruption and media manipulation could come from any era, and it's hard to believe that there isn't a deliberate political point being made here. The themes here are obvious but not force fed to you; disempowerment of women, government corruption and common Eastwood themes of children in danger (which he describes as "about the highest form of drama you can have") and family.
I genuinely can't find an aspect of Changeling to criticise. It's a polished, top-class production that is completely authentic, tells a compelling, disturbing, yet in some ways uplifting tale and is superbly acted all round. Other have criticized it for its ending, but is works for me, but that's beside the point; credit must go to the film makers for sticking so closely to the true story.
RATINGS: IMDB 8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3/10
RELEASE DATE: 2008
PARENT'S GUIDE: Rated 15 for moderate violence, swearing and for the general disturbing content.
AWARDS: 3 Oscar nominations
DVD: Extras are a bit light, with two standard featurettes; one focusing mainly on Eastwood's directing style, the other on Jolie. The film is currently selling for less than £4 on Amazon and is widely available.
CONCLUSION: Well, I have to stand corrected. Eastwood's direction is superb. Jolie is unrecognisable as the cartoon-creation on the front page of celebrity magazines. The storyline is fascinating, disturbing and perfectly told. Highly recommended.
I was really interested in this when I first heard about it, which was near the time I watched "A Might Heart", in which Angelina Jolie plays a woman looking for her husband. This time, in Changeling, she is looking for her missing son. I finally got the DVD and watched it!
~~~DVD BOX COVER DESIGN~~~
The DVD design is simple and has a white frame of Angelina Jolie in a reflection. The simplicity does not tell us anything much about the plot, but conveys an emotion, which we will feel throughout the film.
~~~THOUGHTS ON PLOT~~~
Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) returns from work one day to find her son is missing. With help from the police, she is one day reunited with her son. Only it isn't her son, and she continues to fight to find him. The police tries to manipulate her, with extreme results. Elsewhere, boys were being abducted and killed by Gordon Northcott, with Christine's son, Walter amongst them but his survival is unknown.Christine's hope and strength leads her to overhaul and change the corruption that is found in the police force.
I was initially put off by the long two hour plus length of the film. Having seen it, at no point do you really get bored or wonder how long there is left to finish. The film pulls you in straight away. Whilst some films will drag out the beginning, this film instantly intrigues, with Walter's abduction within 10 minutes of the film starting.
We can see instantly the motherly pain of Christine and her plight for her son's return. When her "son" is returned to her, who isn't actually her son, the emotion that is expressed is genuine and believable. This is the same throughout. We are taken through an extreme emotional journey that comes through in a wide range of settings, which really reflect the time it was set (around 20s-30s).
The themes found through the film are strong and focussed, including the roles of men and women, where women are inferior, emotion-driven and powerless; and the corruption of the police, government and social heirarchy. The manipulation that is placed upon Christine Collins is unheard of today, and we can really feel and relate to her fight for justice.
But what I love most of all is the ending. Whilst most of the loose ends are tied, the return or survival of Christine's son is never known from the movie, giving a message of hope. What she also did was overturn the government and political corruption; and represent a woman of power.
Christine Collins- Angelina Jolie
Detective Ybarra- Michael Kelly
Rev Gustav Briegleb- John Malkovich
Also stars Jeffrey Donovan, Gattlin Griffith and Devon Conti.
The film received three Oscar nominations and eight Bafta nominations, both included Best Actress. Angelina Jolie did a fantastic job, and again, having seen A Mighty Heart, I thought it was a great fit. She was much better in this though. The emotion and persona she conveyed felt genuine and true, perhaps because she is a mother herself.
Apparently, Reese Witherspoon and Hilary Swank were also interested in the role, but really neither of them would have done the film justice compared to Angelina Jolie, and I'm glad they picked her.
The other characters were not really given enough a role to stand out, but they made appropriate supports to Angelina Jolie's role as Christine Collins.
The DVD contains two documentaries focussing on the role of Angelina Jolie; working with John Malkovich and her casting as Christine Collins.
This DVD is very cheap now on Amazon and can be purchased for around £2-3.
The film was fantastic and very focussed. The side stories that stem from the main plot receive appropriate closure, whilst the main story of Christine's plight for her son is left open and gives sign of hope. Despite its length, the intrigue builds and maintains throughout so you are never bored. Angelina Jolie does a fantastic job as Christine Collins and deserve her award nominations! This is highly recommended!
this film is a true story about a mother who goes to work and comes home to find her son missing, Any mothers nightmare, when the police finially get around to opening a missing persons case they come across a boy who says he is her son. She knows this is not her child and is distressed as they are convinced it is her missing child and so are no longer looking for her son. She never gives up on looking and the police are convinced she is menatlly unstable as they believe she does not recognise her own child. It tells the story of a womens fight to find her missing child and also a high profile case in which she fights against the police to get things changed. I watched this after being told how wonderful it was, and i am so glad i did. Angelina jolie plays the mothers part fantastically, i could feel her pain and heartache throughout the film.
The fact that this film is a true story makes it almost at times impossible to watch. I felt emothionally drained after watching it, there were very graphics scenes in the film which although i thought the film was excellent would stop me from watching it again as i found it too upsetting.
This is not just a tearjerker it was an emotional rollercoaster and one which i could still recal living weeks later, even writting this now brings back the sorrow and anger i felt watching this cleaverly thought out film.
Dont let the fact that this film effected me so much put you off, it is also a film of courage and a women coming against all odds, but to me a women with younge children myself and the fact it was a true story it is the only film i have ever watched that i feel touched me so deeply.
This story is a true story about a woman who lives with her son. She goes out to work one day leaving him at home on his own and when she comes back he has vanished. She tells the police and they start to look into the case of the missing boy but as the case drags on they are told from higher up that they need to get a result so when a boy turns up saying he is her son they let the woman know and take her to meet him with all the press coverage that comes with it. But it is not her son, it is an imposter but it doesn't matter how much she tells them it isn't her son the police don't want to listen and say the case is closed.
The woman finds a minister who is trying to make people notice that the police are not doing their jobs properly and he helps her by questioning the way the police have handled the case in public but they fight back and she is finally arrested and placed in a mental hospital where she is not allowed out to keep her quiet so that the police reputation isn't tainted.
The story continues about her fight against the police and also in finding out what happened to her son.
The film is a very harrowing story and I think, as a parent myself, I was feeling enraged that such a thing could have really happened. It was a dreadful thing for the police to do to a woman who was so bereft with grief for her missing boy.
Angelina Jolie was brilliant as Christine Collins, the mother who lost her son. I think probably her being a mother herself must have helped her to put all the emotions into this role.
John Malkovich was also brilliant, a usual, as the Reverend Gustav Brieglab.
Also in the film was -
Gattlin Griffith - Walter Collins
Michelle Gunn - Sandy
Michael Kelly - Detective Lester Y'barra
Colm Feore - Chief James E Davis
Devon Conti - Arthur Hutchins
The film was directed by Clint Eastwood and it is rated a 15 in the UK. It lasts for 141 minutes.
This review is also published on shopping.com under my user-name Harveydog
Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) loves her son, Walter. She is a single mother, works hard to earn a living but you can't fault her mothering skills; they are impeccable. She is dedicated to looking after her 9 year old boy, competent and responsible. Christine works in Los Angeles as a switchboard operator; sometimes she has to work shifts. The year is 1928 and as she comes home from a weekend at work she finds that her lovely son has disappeared. A massive search is launched that affects the whole of the nation but he is never found. Six months later in Illinois a child claiming to be Walter Collins turns up and is returned to Mrs Collins but she knows her own son and this child is not Walter. Feeling distraught, muddled and manipulated by a dodgy police force disinclined to own up to the mistake they have made in front of the media, she allows herself to be cajoled into taking the child home to see if it works out between them. You could say - on a trial basis.
As time moves on Christine becomes even more certain that the police force has made a grave mistake and demands the case be opened and for them to carry on their search for her son, Walter. The Police Department of Los Angeles in early 1928 were troubled by controversy, incompetent and rotten to the core. They realised that this one determined lady could cause a lot of trouble for them as far as public relations were concerned so they go to great lengths to give Christine a bad name. The picture they paint of Walter's mother is real bad; incapable of looking after a child and suffering from mental illness. Christine doesn't give into being bullied - the fight is on with a little help from Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich). He has made it his primary task to show the members of his flock just how violent, corrupt and incompetent the Los Angeles Police Department are by exposing them. Unfortunately, women like Christine who spoke up against corruption were not accepted by society back then and life started to get pretty tough.
In the meantime, a cop who is working on a basic deportation case comes across a youth who tells a vile and loathsome tale with possible explosive connections and as the case develops, the entire city shifts and changes at a great pace. As both cases interlock the legal system is forced to look into its unjust acts, problems and its absence of justice but in ways that nobody expects.
The Changeling is slightly based on a true story and there is a lot in the film to remind us that all was not good in the 'good old days.' We live in pretty violent times these days but the crimes we see committed in Wineville were totally wicked and disturbing but nowhere near as disturbing as the treatment dished out to ordinary innocent people and especially females by the LAPD. It is difficult to imagine a police force today having such contempt for women or a woman who would be so unwilling to stand up for her rights as in the case of the prostitute played by Amy Ryan.
The Changeling is a typical Oscar movie; period drama, famous director, strong characters, emotional melodrama. I was surprised the film only received 3 awards - one for art direction, cinematography and best actress in a leading role. I must admit I have only just watched this on DVD even though it is an Eastwood movie. It was always the thought of watching Angelina Jolie that put me off. However, her performance was actually very good and I was pleasantly surprised. None of the pouting lips but a very strong, haunting performance as a dedicated mother and independent woman for those times.
John Malkovich, I always love and this performance of a tenacious minister was refreshing to see.
Being born in 1930, Clint Eastwood can remember the old Los Angeles especially as he was brought up in California so the LA we see in the movie feels right, cable cars and all. The film's writer, J. Michael Straczynski has stuck close to the true roots of the story and tried to tell it how it was to respect Christine's bravery and this is something I think is admirable but could be one of the reasons the film didn't win more Oscars. Also, the movie is too long. I think the film's story could have been told in two hours and it would have been riveting with a satisfactory payoff at the end but the last 30 minutes fade and the film runs out of steam. A screenplay based on a true story can end in a more natural spot, and though true life never follows the best dramatic arc, 'original story' films sometimes go off track when relating a good story in their overarching need to cover the whole story. When a film with as much potential as the Changeling wastes some of its impact with a roaming finale, it's difficult to ignore the incompleteness.
Even though the Changeling has flaws it is definitely worth seeing. I wouldn't say it is a judgemental or political film and the film is fair in its treatment of all its characters. There's also a tiny glow of humanity in all of the evil guys. The final result conveys a subjective feeling of grief over the inadequacy and evil prolonged by humans, flaws in a justice system that are perpetually avoided, and the lengths people will go to save their name.
It's worth 4 stars, I reckon. Just wish I had seen it at the cinema for the photography of old LA.
I cannot believe this is a true story! It's shocking how corrupt the police were. Angelina Jolie plays (at last) a caring, lost mother after her boy is taken and the police return a different young boy and convince her it is her child. There are traumatic scenes that are not so easy to watch when Angelina Jolie is taken into a mental hospital so she can no longer embarrass the police. I thought this was going to be a tale of mix up with the police but its a terrible heartbreaking story and the separation of a mother from her boy, the corruption of the police force and a brutal murderer. The ending is left slightly open and optimistic although everyone knows and has excepted the boys fate. It does drag a little in the middle and the running time of the film is a bit too long but its brilliantly directed by Clint Eastwood (I am a fan) and well casted as Angelina Jolie plays such a different role than her past characters.
Disclaimer: As with all my movie reviews, this is about the film itself rather than the DVD. I generally don't watch extra features or deleted scenes as they are usually removed for a reason and detract from the film as it was intended.
Key Stars: Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Donovan, John Malkovich, Jason Butler Harner, Colm Feore
Changeling is a 2008 Drama title that was directed by Clint Eastwood. It received critical acclaim and a substantial profit margin even considering the comparatively high 54 million dollar production budget. The movie details the true story of a mother in Los Angeles that loses her child one day. She is told one day down the line that they have found her son only to find out that it is just a random child pretending to be her boy. The mother refuses to take the child and is consequentially branded as an unfit mother and delusional. She fights her case while searching for her real child.
The storyline to this movie is superb and although it has a long screen time of 141 minutes it is enjoyable throughout. Additionally the acting is also great on many levels, from the accurate portrayal of the 1920 period to the downright awesome performance of agony for losing her child then being put through even more stress from the corrupt police force, from Angelina Jolie.
I'll be honest and say there is not a whole lot you could state about this movie negatively since it sets out exactly what it meant to achieve. One comment from critics though has been that the dialogue is very direct and lacks the subtleties of a brilliant script. This is in no way something that should deter you from watching the movie though!
Overall this is a superb movie that I would recommend to anyone. For those with an appreciation for good cinematography and scripting this is a must see! A great experience in film!
In 1928, Christine Collins come home from work to find her son, Walter, missing. After months of searching for him, the police discover someone who matches Walter's description and he claims that he is Christine's son. But Christine swears that the child is not her's and she has to fight the police and the courts to continue with the search for the right boy.
At first I didn't think Angelina Jolie would be any good in this as she usually plays more action-packed and violent roles but I actually ended up thinking that she was great. She looks perfect for the part of a woman living in the 1920s with her beautiful big features and coiffured hair. She's a brilliant actress and makes you feel so emotional about the disappearance of her son.
I watched this on a plane so I didn't get the full big screen effect but the film was just as emotional and tense and I was so gripped to the tiny screen that I didn't feel tired for the whole overnight flight, I just wanted to watch the film.
It's scary to think that the film is based on actual events as the outcome is pretty horrible and there are some very graphic and nasty scenes. But this only makes the film more emotional and it really is an excellent and very powerful film to watch.
Another amazing film from director Clint Eastwood. Set in the 1920 this is the true story of a woman whose son goes missing and when he returns hes not who he appears. The woman then struggles with the police and the press to get her real son found but the truth has a chilling twist. Its over 2 hours long but no second is waisted as you are drawn into the plot.
Angelina Jolie's preformance is one of her best ever and it really makes this film so authentic. Other great preformaces come from John Malkovich and generally everyone else in the film icluding the children. The sets and props all really added to the film even in the samllest deatil as well as the music that sounds amazing and definatly fits the period as well as the overall mood.
This film really suprised me with the story and how well it was told. I would recomend this film to almost anyone especially now that its about £4 on amazon. Its a must see!
This film is set in the 1920s and is based on a true story. It tells the story of how a single mother returns home from work one day to find her child missing and the actions of the Los Angeles police in finding her child.
Angelina Jolie plays Christine Collins who was asked to work the weekend at the last minute. Upon her return from work she discovers that her son, Walter, is not at home and after looking for him and not finding him she contacts the LAPD for help.
Jeffrey Donavan plays Captain J J Jones, head of the LAPD. In the 1920s the LAPD was corrupt and the public extremely distrustful of it so it was under pressure to prove otherwise. After several months of apparantly looking for Walter the LAPD claimed that he had been found. It was only when Christine came to be reunited with her son that she realised it was not him. Captainn J J Jones pressurises Christine to take him home and convinces her that after not seeing him for several months her son was bound to have changed.
Christine is wary of the boy and knows for certain he is not her son after finding several physical discrepancies but does not feel able to speak to the LAPD as they were quite dismissive. Christine at this time is befriended by the Reverand Gustav Briegleb (played by John Malkovich) who persuades her to get the evidence and then confront the LAPD. She then goes to see Captain J J Jones with her evidence to persuade him to continue the search for the real Walter Collins.
Captain J J Jones is not prepared to continue looking for her son and instead arranges for a doctor to see her. Christine is accused of being an unfit mother and is sent to a mental institution against her will.
Whilst this is happening there is another story being told. I found this part a little disturbing. We are introduced to Sanford Clark and his uncle Gordon Northcott. Sanford Clark is about to be deported to Canada when he tells the police officer he was forced by his uncle to help him kidnap young boys and murder them. Sanford Clark identifies Walter Collins as one of the young boys he helped kidnap.
Northcott is caught and put on trial and found guilty of the murders of the young boys. He is then sentenced to the death penalty. On his last day he sends a message to Christine telling her that he will admit to killing Walter if she met him. Christine visits but he refuses to tell her if he did kill Walter. On his way to the scaffold he cries and claims he didn't kill Walter.
Christine never gives up hope that her son is alive and later she finds out from one of the boys who was assumed murdered that Walter saved him and may actually be alive. This gives Christine more hope to continue the search for her son.
I thought this was an emotional and well acted film. The costume and set designs were great and pretty accurate and the streetcars used for the filming made it feel like it was really the 1920s. I was impressed with Angelina's acting and felt it was convincing and at times intense and was a vast improvement on her Lara Croft performances. John Malkovich's performance was forceful and showed how the Reverand was on a crusade to help one woman expose the corruption of the LAPD. I felt his voice a bit monotonous at times and became a bit of a drone but this is only a minor gripe and not enough for me to truly criticise.
Some people say the film is a little on the long side but I didn't notice as I was engrossed with the storyline even though parts of it was a bit disturbing. I wanted a happy ending from this after everything Christine Collins went through but this never transpired.
This film was directed by Clint Eastwood and it is plain to see why Angelina Jolie got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role as she really was very convincing.
In 1928 Los Angeles, Christine Collins leaves her 9 year old son Walter alone in their suburban house as she heads off to work. What Christine doesn't know is that this fateful day could be the last time she ever sees sweet natured Walter Collins, as when she arrives home from work, Walter is gone...
Panicked, Christine frantically searches the neighbourhood before ringing the police. 5 months pass and there is still no word on Christine's son, when the police arrive with the news that Walter has been found. Overjoyed, Christine is rushed to the train station to collect her son, however the boy she's presented with isn't her son. When no one will believe Christine that the boy who calls himself Walter Collins infact isn't Walter, Christine sets off on a one woman mission to discover the truth...
Angelina Jolie is one of those actresses who is more famous for her personal life than for any of the work she's done in the past. Despite starring in successful films like Girl, Interrupted and Tomb Raider it's been the Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston saga that has catapulted her fame into overdrive. I've always thought of Jolie has a decent actress, she seems to have more of a range than Jennifer Aniston in that she's able to portray serious roles before indulging herself in a comedy, however of recent years Jolie has occupied her time by adopting and making babies with Brad Pitt (who wouldn't?!), as an alternative to working. The 2008 movie Changeling was what some people were calling Angelina's comeback movie... and boy, what a comeback.
Jolie has clearly thrown herself head first into the role of Christine Collins, she doesn't just look the part but her beauty is toned down dramatically for this role. I was worried that she wouldn't be believable as the grief stricken Mother because her striking looks and huge celebrity status would overshadow, not only the character, but the film itself, but Jolie wholeheartedly encapsulates everything that was necessary to pull off such a difficult role. Jolie is a shadow of her former self throughout the movie, appearing shy, yet strong willed and willing to sacrifice anything to ensue the safety of her son. When I read the plot of the movie I was expecting it to be of a very over the top nature but the movie is very understated throughout. Instead of shouting and screaming Jolie keeps her cool almost for the entirety of the movie, whilst still portraying her grief through a single look or a line delivered with the exact amount of emotion while retaining her sombre exterior. Jolie is simply superb.
The outlook of the plot doesn't do justice for the way this film actually develops throughout the 141 minute running time. For such a lengthy film I was expecting it to become stale after around 90 minutes but due to all the twists and turns the movie kept me enthralled from start to finish. The film progresses at a steady pace, not so slow that you'll become jaded, however not so fast that you're unable to keep up with the ongoing storyline. The story does have a lot to tell and I found that the long running time was completely justifiable given that this movie is so compelling.
Based on a true story gives the film a lot more credibility, although I bought the film on DVD I failed to the notice the 'based on truth' phrase placed on the front... and side of the DVD cover therefore I was speculating with myself as to whether or not these events actually took place. They seemed too outrageous to have actually happened, however the morally shocking events that take place seem too distressing to possibly be fiction and it's with great sadness to discover that the plot is actually based on real life events.
The film works largely off the fact that Jolie is a single parent. The gender aspect of the film is delved into quite deeply in a scene where Jolie meets other women that have gone through similar experiences with the LAPD. Although disturbing for some, the subject matter as a whole was told superbly from start to finish, every aspect was well thought out and even though the audience are aware that 'Walter' is not her son, the film still manages to plant the seed of doubt into your mind during the first hour or so. The real dramatic turn in the storyline comes about an hour into the film when the film takes on an unexpectedly sinister turn. From then on the film turns sleuth to discover the truth, switching from Christine's crumbling world to the role of the detectives, eventually culminating in two court cases when things come to what we think will be the climax before director Clint Eastwood hits the audience with another shattering body shot that blows the whole story to pieces. This film is a desperate attempt by all the find out the truth and although you'd think that the numerous subplots would detract from Christine's struggle the film always pieces together evidence so that everything gels like a well oiled machine.
Film veteran Clint Eastwood is on top form with Changeling, with his renowned attention to detail paying off with all the superbly shot set pieces and wardrobes which range from roller-skates to the waist less clothes that Jolie and all the cast are dressed in throughout.
Although Jolie is at the helm of this film with her fantastic performance, the supporting cast do their jobs to perfection. Jeffery Donavon was superb as the egotistical police officer who thinks he rules the town, during the court case is when he really shines. We see his façade crumble and the realisation of what he's done set in as he firstly tries to defend his heartless actions only to somewhat accept that his lacklustre and outrageous actions contributed to the horrific events that have occurred. The rest of the cast, namely John Malkovich are all superb. The child actors almost steal the show with their dramatic performances that resonate sublimely onscreen with the audience.
This is without doubt one of the best films I've ever watched. The way the story unfolds grips you from start to finish and this film never fails to captivate you with the reveal of everything little bit of information which no matter how small could easily become a vital piece of evidence that you wont want to miss. The emotional story resonates with the audience in a way that I haven't seen before, I was expecting this to be a frantic and hysterical piece of filmmaking that would be too dramatic to achieve anything at all, but the subtlety from all involved makes this an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie really have outdone themselves and if you're yet to see this it's an absolute must.
The DVD is available from play.com for £3.99.
~ PLOT ~
When Christine Collins returns home from work one day and discovers her son Walter has gone missing, she enlists the help of the local police department to search for the boy and track him down. The search is proven to be fruitless however and Christine is distraught with worry about her son's whereabouts.
Her prayers are answered when she is informed by the officer dealing with the case of Walter's disappearance that they have tracked down the boy, who was travelling with a homeless man, and plan to reunite him with Christine.
Christine's joy at Walter's discovery is short-lived however as when mother and son are at last reunited, Christine is devastated to discover that the boy the authorities have found is not her son and is a complete stranger to her. As the authorities and the police department do not take responsibility for their error, attempting to convince Christine that she is mistaken over the boy's identity and the young boy they have found swears that he is her missing son, Christine is forced into providing temporary care for the young boy.
When she speaks out against the police department and publicly condemns the way she has been treated, matters take a turn for the worst and Christine is forcibly removed into psychiatric care. Will she manage to over rule the authorities and regain control of her son's disappearance? And who is this young boy who swears he has come home to his mother? And most importantly, will they ever discover the true whereabouts of Walter?
~ OPINION ~
I knew nothing of the story of Changeling, and therefore had no idea what to expect when I sat down to watch it. Angelina Jolie is cast as the lead role of Christine Collins, and the fact that I could never be described as the biggest fan of Ms Jolie's acting did nothing to strike an enthusiastic chord with me before I watched it.
To be fair I wasn't completely wrong as there were several occasions in 'Changeling' that Ms Jolie was her usual wooden self in my opinion. I will admit though that these were padded in between some nice dramatic moments that Ms Jolie did embrace with what seemed to be a bit more passion or acting skill... or perhaps a bit of both. Either way, it could not be said that the whole performance she delivered was terrible and completely wooden. Just parts of it.
Half the problem I had with Angie's performance was that she came across as being stony and cold. Given some of the hardships the character of Christine had to endure this is acceptable, but I felt that more emotion should have been put into specific scenes such as the part of the story that unfolded concerning Walter's whereabouts. I know that Christine was obviously a very strong character and Angelina did get this across to maximum effect but I personally just felt that she was too stony at times where I would have liked to have seen a softer side to the character.
The film's storyline has a good few twists and turns and certainly has enough in itself to satisfy those of us who crave a little bit of a thrilling twist in a film. This was a surprise to me as I thought the film would be about a woman who was 'reunited' with the wrong boy after reporting her son missing and the main part of the storyline would be about her trying to get the right boy back. This is a huge element to the story of course, but there is much, much more to it too. A pretty impressive plot this is too, particularly as it is a true story.
The film is set in the late 1920's and the story continues through into the 30's. This means of course that our main characters did not have the same rights and power that they would have had if the film (or the true story) were set in modern times. This is a significant fact to point out, as Christine Collins has more than a few instances of abuse and corruption to deal with. All of this added into the story very nicely though, so that as viewers, we were never allowed to lose interest in the plot and the way the story was progressing.
This is probably just as well, because both my partner and myself found the film to be incredibly long. Not so long that we were willing it to end and found the story was padded out to ridiculous extremes, but long enough to have me looking at the clock more than once. To be fair, the story was good enough to keep my interest throughout, but I could not write a review on this film and not comment on how long it felt whilst watching it. The film does run for over two hours but it felt a lot longer.
The era in which the film is set is the 1920's/1930's as I said earlier and I really thought that the backdrop to the film was just fantastic. Everything looked to be very authentic, in particular the fashions and hairstyles that the ladies in the film wore were interesting, and the sets and 'street' scenes with all of the old street cars and things certainly suggested to me that the production team had done their homework in setting the right type of atmosphere for the story and the film itself.
The main reason I gave in to watching this film was the fact that it was directed by Clint Eastwood, and as I often find when I watch a film he has directed, it was better than I thought it would be. Clint is obviously experienced and talented enough to know exactly what he is doing, and Changeling was better than my initial expectations. The story to the film ran smoothly, without jumping about from here to there and causing confusion and with good performances from all of the cast too.
John Malkovich is cast in the movie as being a reverend who uses his radio show to publicly condemn the authorities and this character is actually a huge support to the character of Christine. Malkovich was very good in his role, although I didn't think we saw enough of him to say that he really added a lot to the movie overall. This is probably down to him being a 'main' character and not a 'lead' one.
Similarly, the role of Captain JJ Jones, of the LAPD was played very well by Jeffrey Donovan. This character is the officer who is in charge of finding Walter when Christine first reports to the police that the child is missing. We can easily believe the corruption that was present in the police force during the time the movie was set, and this is mostly thanks to the portrayal of the rather horrendous Captain Jones by Donovan.
Changeling is a story about determination, prejudice and discrimination. These are all big themes and each of them was delivered beautifully. This is not an easy task to undertake in my opinion, and all credit is due.
The film is Certificate 15 and in my opinion this is appropriate. I'd certainly not recommend any youngsters see the film as there are quite a few violent and upsetting scenes that may be too much for them.
I'd give Changeling four stars out of five and would recommend giving it a watch if you are looking for a dramatic film that contains a lot of suspense and some very good acting performances. Just don't expect to be blown away by Ms Jolie's performance...
The DVD of Changeling can be purchased online from amazon for around £4. The version I watched had one or two bonus features on it but I did not watch them so cannot comment.