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CHANGELING, 2008
Movie Reviews!

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CHANGELING
CHANGELING
Movie Review

Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich
Review by Eli Manning



SYNOPSIS:

A mother's prayer for her kidnapped son to return home is answered, though it doesn't take long for her to suspect the boy who comes back is not hers.

REVIEW:

"Never start a fight but always finish it."

That's what Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) tells her son in the beginning of the film. It's rule #1 of life and it's Christine's top value. She has a high level of integrity and knows that the world isn't perfect, but you better make sure you do what's right. Always finish the fight. That's one of the major themes of Changeling, a strong movie based on a true story of a woman who just wants to see her son again.

One day Christine comes home from work and her son is gone. And no one knows where he is. She thinks he's been found, but the police have tried to pawn another child on her. Then that's when the high drama begins.

Director Clint Eastwood keeps bringing back similar themes in his films where adults lose a large part of themselves when their children are gone. When you create offspring, they become so much of who you are, if something happens to them you don't know how to function. Christine refuses to believe that her son is dead because if he is, she is basically dead herself. Hope is the key to her survival and it makes her strong during an extremely difficult chain of events that occur in Changeling.

Changeling is one of those movies that is filmed in that classic Hollywood style. The camera moves in every shot, but it occurs ever so slightly you don't really notice. Whenever the tension

arises, the camera picks up on it and pushes in, out, up, down, right or left -- the exact proper way to heighten the emotion of the scene. You can watch Changeling again in 50 years and not be able to figure out when the film was made.

Changeling is a universal film. Meaning that it will never be dated and can be played anywhere around the world at any time as its themes and storyline is something everyone can relate with or feel for. That's what you call great filmmaking. But whether it's a great film or not is up to the viewer.

This viewer thinks it's a great film. I can see many thinking that it's a little long and Christine Collins' story thread drifts in its mid-point, but I have no problem with this. We leave Christine for a bit in order to magnify the intense 3rd act. In many films this year I would have loved to have overseen the editor so I can cut the many unneeded scenes that have nothing to do with the overall theme and conclusion. But Changeling isn't one of those films. I can't think of a single wasted moment in the 140 minute running time.

Angelina Jolie pulls off an exceptional performance as the lead. This is a role that takes an actor on a 3 month emotional downward spiral. She starts happy and then things get worse and worse for the character she's playing. This is an easy Oscar nominated role for her.

Jolie is the type of actor who needs very little dialogue as she evokes so much emotion on the screen with her closeups. She is a director's dream, especially in a film like this where the key to Changeling is the closeup shots of Christine Collins. She is a mother without a child and the people who you expect to be the society's saviors are your antagonists. Her reactions to the insanity of what's happening to her are what keeps the viewer deeply involved as we root for her all the way. What's interesting is the role of Rev. Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich) who comes to Christine's aid in helping her get her 'real' son back. This character is barely in the film and we really never truly get to know him. And that's a good thing. Many director's and/or producer's would of heightened this role to almost lead character status as this is the type of character Hollywood loves. But Eastwood stays away from that fluff and always keeps the main storyline on Christine.

All in all, terrific film in every aspect. Hollywood needs to make more movies like this where we actually have a female hero who has a great emotional journey. Where are these film? And why do we only get three or four of them a year?

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