The Heap Reviews “Changeling”

It’s about time I add on to the quite bare reviews page. I’ve seen many movies, heard new albums, and read a book or two since the initial review! I literally have a (running) list of pieces I have been wanting to review. Perhaps I will get to them in due time. Let’s just say reviews will be more prevalent, especially since we have a subscription to Netflix and my mom loves ordering the most random of movies.

Changeling is just another one of Clint Eastwood’s silver screen masterpieces. I guess this goes without saying about much of his work.

Based on a true story, Changeling pits citizen versus a corrupt, higher order in the LAPD. Oh yes, the story occurs in Los Angeles towards the end of the Roaring 20’s. While the movie doesn’t depict demonstrators as violent, it’s fair to say they surely keep the spirit of Los Angelans past and present when it comes to formal riots.

I found the opening minutes of the film to be borderline tolerable. The interactions between mother and son seemed “forced,” so to speak. I didn’t feel the chemistry between Jolie and child star Gattlin Griffith, and found it hard to believe in the deep relationship the film attempts to establish in a relatively short period of time. A bit of “over-acting” takes place, perhaps working to distract the audience from what is occurring.

Despite these minor personal pet peeves, the set-up was executed pretty well. We follow the Collins family through their daily rituals, and allow the film to establish a sense of serene normalcy. Then before you know it, Walter Collins is kidnapped, and the audience is left wondering, How in the world can the next hour and a half be about finding the boy, especially with the beginning of the movie being a bit slow.

Needless to say, the pace picks up immediately. An assured story of a normal life in American Suburbia takes a turn towards a suffocatingly horrific and bizarre tragedy. It’s funny because strangely enough, Jolie becomes believable. Scenes immediately following the kidnapping showing are downright claustrophobic. Her encounters with obstacles and the tribulations she must face are that much more unsettling.

The film’s brilliance isĀ  how all of the components come together- setting, camerawork, and perhaps even script/acting- to create a false sense of security. Then, as the child is taken away, so is the peace of mind, so is the comfort. Collins and the audience are cast into a world of constant rain and darkness. Most of the time, the brightest and most vivid object on the screen were Jolie’s vibrant red lips. If you pay attention throughout the movie, it appears the shade of lipstick may coincide with her relative “hope” level.

Eastwood clearly has a knack for storytelling, no matter if it be Western, post-modern, or a movie about old farts in space. In Changeling, Eastwood addresses the emergence of the American woman in the post WWI era. To me, it was amazing how he was able to add such a deep, complex layer to what could have been just a simple retelling of a true story. Instead, he chooses to empower. Jolie’s character is the first female supervisor at the telephone company she works at. She’s a single parent. Yet in public forum, she is easily dismissed by official (men in power), discredited and forced into an insane asylum for questioning the status-quo set by the man’s world.

So of course, now you have your double-entendre for hope: Finding her boy and the continued advancement of women in society. Ironically, she needs the help of John Malkovich’s character, a Presbyterian pastor who constantly exposes government and police officials in cover ups and demands accountability. Malkovich’s interpretation is wonderful, with the character echoing of the voices of many Rights activists of the past.

Changeling was nominated for three Oscars. One was for Jolie as leading actress. the other two were for Cinematography and Art Direction. The film is extremely visual. Eastwood employs colors, angles, and setting quite skillfully. I’ll have to see it again to be able to really delve down into the deeper meanings! Overall a wonderful movie and an unexpected thriller.


9/10 Bags.