Review: Changeling

My friend Michele and I went to see Changeling on Sunday. Here is my review.

Clint Eastwood’s Changeling is perhaps the best movie I have seen in all
of 2008. The movie, based on a true story in Los Angeles beginning in 1928, stars Angelina Jolie who plays Christine Collins, a mother whose 9-year old son goes missing. The police return the wrong boy, who states repeatedly that he is the missing boy, but any mother knows her own son. The movie depicts the struggle between a mother trying to prove her son is still missing and the police who cover up the facts.

The backdrop of the movie involves police corruption, probably widespread throughout the US in that era. John Malkovich portrays the Rev. Gustav Briegleb, who is leading a radio campaign against said corruption in LA. He learns of Christine’s story and becomes her advocate.

Angelina Jolie gives what is arguably her best performance in a motion picture, and will certainly be a nominee for Best Actress this year. Malkovich plays a good supporting role, but the most outstanding supporting role is that of Jeffrey Donovan as Capt. J.J. Jones.

I have admired Jeffrey Donovan’s acting since I first spotted him on the excellent, but short-lived TV series, Touching Evil (2004). Many of you may recognize him as the star of the current Burn Notice. As the police captain, Donovan is very convincing as a cop who just wants to close cases, damn the facts. Shutting up the mother by saying she is crazy is just the ticket.

The movie is about two hours but it is never boring. I especially enjoyed the streetcar scenes in LA, in a brief era before the oil companies had them torn up to encourage automobile use. We know how well that went.

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