Monday, June 22, 2009

Changeling. B+

Clint Eastwood is one of our great filmmakers in a clean, classical sense. He's one of the few directors today who makes his movies like the director's from the cinema's golden age. He never seems to take a wrong step. His movies are swift, neat, and stunning. He knows how to direct a classic motion picture. He's back in near full form with 'Changeling,' a beautiful period peace set in LA during the 1920s. The movie follows Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single mother whose son Walter is abducted. The LAPD goes on a search, and eventually find Walter and return him to Christine. The only problem is that the boy returned is not actually Christine's son. 'Changeling' is not 'based on a true story', but 'a true story' as the opening titles tell us. One of the central themes in the movie is the corruption of the LAPD. It is brought out brilliantly by Jeffery Donovan, who portrays J.J. Jones, a police captain assigned to find Walter. 'Changeling' is at times a terrifying film, and immensely disturbing. It can be criticized for telling the story to formulaically, but it didn't really bother me because I found the premise to be so incredibly fascinating. Jolie has received acclaim for her performance, but it didn't strike me as truly great. I thought the supporting characters were much stronger: John Malkovich as the sympathetic reverend, Michael Kelly as the kind detective, and Jason Butler Harner as the psycho. Also, there's some fine work done by the children in the film as well. 'Changeling' is a beautiful looking film, thanks in part to the lavish production design, the costumes, and Tom Stern's (an Eastwood regular) cinematography. I didn't leave the movie thinking that this was a new Clint Classic however. But it has stayed with me ever since I saw it, and I still found it to be a 'near triumph.'

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