The Changeling

November 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Suzie's Movies

Just in time for Halloween… every mother’s nightmare.

Once again Clint Eastwood takes us to another time and another place to experience another person’s agony. He does this so well. Think “Million Dollar Baby” or “Flags of Our Fathers”.

In Changling we experience the heartbreaking story of  Christine Collins as she searches for her abducted son. Taken from a series of true events known as the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, Mr. Eastwood chooses to tell the bizarre and cruel story surrounding the mother of one of the abducted children rather than focusing on the murderer or his actions. Christine’s ordeal is nightmarish enough in its own right.

Having a child taken away from you is in and of itself a tragedy. To compound Christine’s plight, after five long months of unsuccessfully searching for her son, the Los Angles Police Department stumbles upon an orphaned boy and tries to convince Christine it’s her lost son. While Christine struggles to convince the police department that they have returned an impostor, the police decide that it’s easier to paint Christine as a negligent mother that is trying to shirk her maternal responsibilities. To cover up their own ineptitude they have Christine committed to a mental hospital to shut her up and make the inconvenience go away. (Did I mention this was a true story?) Christine refuses to be silenced and with the help of a radio minister (played by John Malkovich) she is not only released from the hospital but assists in uncovering the ramped corruption in the Los Angles Police Department. The mystery of her son’s whereabouts remained.

There is little to find fault with in Changling. Clint Eastwood always manages to get passionate performances out of his actors and this is no exception. I did find Jeffrey Donovan’s awful Irish accent annoying. Lucky for us, sometimes he used it, sometimes it was forgotten altogether. The real brilliance of this movie is found in the details. Hundreds of tiny details that help make the atmosphere of the 1920s come alive. From an old box of cereal to Ms. Jolie’s period piece wardrobe, hardly a single item was overlooked. You are, for the most part, looking a living aspect of the 1920s. I do think that the scope of this incredibly bizarre event in history was so vast that in trying to trim it down to 140 minutes to make it marketable for theaters we are left with a somewhat choppy feeling movie. But I’ll give Mr. Eastwood a pass on that. He came through for many women when he brought to light the fortitude through  pain in one mother’s heart.

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