NewsBlaze search box 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

A gulf in the attitudes of two men had a profound effect on the orphans' fortunes. One is stable and successful and the other had many scrapes with the law.
Thai (arrow), a film by Henry Kro, 37th out of 1190 films from 86 countries. Features 16 year old Karbi heroine Rengsajir P Killingpi, daughter of acclaimed Diphu martial artist
Prairie Miller discusses the beat poets, punk rock, Elijah's journey from Frodo to hero worship, Auden, Blake, McCarthyism, and the radicalization of Thomas
Lucy McBath reminisces about Jordan while discussing 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, a documentary chronicling the trial of her son's killer.
A young victimized actor phones in from LA, to speak about An Open Secret, a documentary that exposes the child casting couch rampant in Hollywood
A desk-bound CIA analyst acts as the ears and eyes of Bradley Fine, a veteran spy. Used to seeing action through hidden cameras and listening devices, when the spy is killed, she takes over his job.

 

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