Daily News header

Changeling Film Review

By     get stories by email

Mysterious 1928 Kidnapping Revisited Courtesy of Clint Eastwood

When a movie opens with an absolute assurance that what you're about to watch is "A True Story" you certainly expect to see a historical drama far more credible than the patently absurd Changeling. Perhaps, if director Clint Eastwood had qualified the claim with words like "Based upon" or "Inspired by," the picture's preposterous premise might have been a lot easier to swallow.

The point of departure is March 9, 1928, which is when we are introduced to Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single-mom raising a nine year-old (Gattlin Griffith) in the City of Los Angeles. By profession, Christine roams around the floor of the phone company on roller skates as the supervisor of a bank of operators.

The plot thickens the fateful Saturday she agrees to fill-in for a co-worker, leaving little Walter home alone. By the time she returns after the shift, the boy has vanished without a clue, so she calls the police to file a missing persons report.

Several months later the cops seem to have solved the mystery, as they announce that Walter's been found alive and well in DeKalb County, Illinois and that he's on his way back to L.A. by rail. However, Christine's hopes are soon dashed when she sees that the child who disembarks from the train is an impostor (Devon Conti) who's four inches too short.

Now, this is where the movie starts to make no sense. Instead of accepting the mother's simple assertion that this was not her son, we're led to believe the LAPD instead pressured Christine to take custody of a perfect stranger because the department was more concerned with getting positive press coverage for cracking the case than with reality.

City of Los Angeles

Doesn't that sound inhuman? And how long could a young impersonator keep up such a charade, even if he had wanted to? Wouldn't the fraud have been exposed the first time "Walter" went out to play with his friends, visited relatives, greeted neighbors or returned to school and was unrecognized by his teachers or classmates? Something simply doesn't add up here.

Be that as it may, the authorities' reaction to Christine's offer of physical evidence is to have her committed to a mental institution, rather than to ascertain the accuracy of such readily verifiable claims as whether or not her son was circumcised. And a grassroots movement led by Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), a corruption-fighting crusader, apparently had no impact either.

Only when a mass grave with a score of bodies is uncovered on the ranch of a serial killer (Jason Butler Hamer), does anyone in power start to believe Christine might not be psychotic after all. Released from the institution, she enlists the bro bono assistance of a hotshot attorney (Geoffrey Pierson), and the dominos start to fall as the careers of the Mayor (Reed Birney), Chief of Police (Colm Feore) and a Captain (Jeffrey Donovan) crumble in the wake of a well-publicized, review board hearing.

Regrettably, neither the painstakingly recreated period backdrops nor an abundance of inspired performances outweigh Changeling's fatal flaw of resting upon a totally fanciful conceit, pretensions to the truth notwithstanding. A crime saga strictly for the very gullible.


Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity, violence and disturbing content.
Running time: 141 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures

To see a trailer for Changeling,

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Scarlett sets off on a bus in Iran and ends up in the tunnels that lie below Paris. There are encounters with a Grim Reaper, the odd zombie, blood spatter. Fodder for a B-rated horror movie but, unfortunately, not one you'd want to watch.
Movie reviewer Kam Williams shares his weekly previews that make choosing a film fun. Look for films that open this week such as Sin City: A Dame to Kill for, Are you Here and more
Movie reviewer Kam Williams gives the film, 'The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears' 2 stars. He states that it is difficult to decipher whodunit and it is guaranteed to have you still scratching your head even after its confounding resolution.
The documentary, Second Opinion investigates what two doctors say was a coverup of a toxic, but promising cancer drug, that may have been an effective cure.
Movie reviewer Kam Williams says the film. The Calling is tarnished slightly by periodic displays of grisly crime scenes apt to upset audience members averse to gratuitous gore.
Jeff Bridges eulogy for Robin Williams, plus James Scully reading at a Santa Cruz cafe, introduced by Adrienne Rich. Chris Butters reports.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site