Comments on watching and making films.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Clint Eastwood is the best kind of director - always willing to try something new, someone who believes in their projects, and someone who delivers, if not a masterpiece, than, at least, a competent and enjoyable film. I feel like Changeling is such a film - not a masterpiece, but a competent, well made, and enjoyable film.

Changeling is the story of Christine Collins, a single mother in late-twenties Los Angeles, who works for the phone company while raising her you son, Walter. One day, when Christine is called into work to fill in for an ailing co-worker, she makes the mistake of leaving you Walter alone, and when she gets back, he's gone. After months of searching for the boy, the LAPD says that DeKalb, Illinois police have found Walter and are sending him back to Los Angeles. When the boy shows up, though, it's not Walter, though the police convince her to tell the press it is. This starts a domino effect that causes Christine to have her very sanity questioned, as the chances of finding the real Walter become slimmer by the moment.

Angelina Jolie, who plays Collins, does a good job in the film, as do pretty much all of the actors, but the real standout is Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) as the slimy Captain J.J. Jones. Donovan inhabits the skin of the abusive and completely out of touch Jones with stunning accuracy. He made me want to hit him! Amy Ryan (Gone, Baby, Gone and The Office), who has been garnering some great minor roles the last few years, also does a great job as Collins' only confidant in the LA County Hospital's Psych ward. There was also a good performance by Eddie Alderson, who played Sanford Clark, the young boy who Gordon Northcott got to help him with his abductions and murders.

Why did the film not impress me? Don't know. I can't really put my finger on... It just didn't pop like Mystic River or Flags Of Our Fathers. It had an almost procedural feel at times, and I feel like the most interesting part of the film, the story of Gordon Northcott, wasn't given the precedence it should have had, nor was the dramatic interpretation taken to the kind of level it could have been. While the story was about Christine Collins, and her battle with the LAPD, I honestly feel like Eastwood did a disservice to the film by not making Collins' story and Northcott's story gel a little more. Don't take that the wrong way, though. I enjoyed Changeling, but, ultimately, it would not be something I would probably see again.

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