Film Review: Changeling

Changeling, with Angelina Jolie, has been out a short while now and the cinema (Bishop’s Stortford) was mercifully devoid of customers. It meant a quiet screening, and I was very glad of it, as the film is well worth the time and money, in my opinion.

The basic story is of a single mother in the late twenties America (Los Angeles) who needs to go in to work unexpectedly, but returns home to find that her young son has disappeared. The LAPD seem almost reluctant to be called in, and we find out through the early part of the film that they are rife with corruption and self promotion through ‘bending’ the rules. When they do finally get their act together a child is eventually found who they claim to be the missing boy. However, this child is three inches shorter that Jolie’s son, and has also been circumcised. Despite this the police insist he is the child, and go to incredible lengths to persuade people that they have done well. Jolie embarks on a mission to reveal the wrong that has been done, and to find her own son against incredible opposition.

She finds support from Rev. Gustav Briegleb (played brilliantly by John Malkovich) who runs a radio show dedicated to highlighting the wrong doing of the LAPD, and gradually the story unravels.

Without wanting to provide too much of a spoiler, it transpires that her son is amongst many that have gone missing. Through sheer chance an honest detective is sent out to a ranch to pick up a Canadian child who has entered the country illegally. The boy reveals that he has been complicit in the deaths of up to twenty children, abducted by his uncle and imprisoned on the ranch. The uncle has an unhealthy appetite for murder, and the boy, once in police custody, tells of how it all happens.

The film ends in the only way it could to stay credible, and we are left feeling both satisfied at a great film, and slightly cheated that the fairy tale ending doesn’t happen. On reflection, I’m pleased it doesn’t as it would have reduced the film to pure cheese if it did!

Directed by Clint Eastwood, this is a fine film to see and well worth the money. It is in parts harrowing, and I found myself longing for the corrupt police captain to get his come-uppance. He does, eventually, but not nearly as much as he should have done! The scenes in the psychiatric ward are superbly done, and they also leave you wanting revenge. Jolie has done a fabulous job playing this role, which she does almost as well as in ‘Girl, interrupted’ where she was outstanding. All in all, this film could become a firm favourite.

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