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April 21, 2014

Changeling (2008)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Actors: Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Donovan, John Malkovich

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Synopsis: Single mother, Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), returns home in Twenties LA, to find her young son disappeared. A Los Angeles Police Department mired in desperately poor public relations, first finds Collins the wrong boy in their investigation, and when she disputes that find, she is ostracised by the LAPD, to the point where they even institutionalise her…

Review: I admire Clint Eastwood – for the Western gems with which he made his name (Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western trilogy and The Outlaw Josey Wales spring immediately to mind), the sheer longevity of his career, and a certain admirable ‘untrendiness’ to his work. I say all this to mitigate against the fact that I find Changeling a desperately poor example of both filmmaking and storytelling. I don’t even care whether this is a “true story” or not, because Eastwood marks out a series of sensational plot incidents without any semblance of nuance or sophisticated dramatic shading.

The film winds up being neither the wrenching personal drama, nor police critique/exposé, nor serial killer picture it threatens to be, instead simply plotting a whistlestop tour through the events on the script, and even deigning to have some of the most odiously demonstrative scenes I’ve seen in a supposedly serious American film for many a year – from the unintentionally hilarious sanitorium scenes (so childishly bogus in their rhetoric), to the most yawn-inducing court-case denouement possible (which simply trots out all the obvious staging points and themes of the narrative to that point). An unmitigated turkey! (April 2014)

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