Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Changeling (2009) (Movie)

     The Changeling (2009) [D: Clint Eastwood. Angelina Jodie, John Malkovitch] Mrs. Christine Collins, a widow, says goodbye to her son at school; when she returns in the evening, he’s gone. Six months later, the LAPD claim they’ve found him, but it’s not her Walter. She fights them about this, embarrasses them, and they escalate their attempts to control and silence her. A pastor who has been fighting LAPD corruption helps her. The chance pickup of a runaway boy links her son’s disappearance to a serial murderer of young boys. A commission of inquiry looks into the case, and orders changes to the LAPD. The murderer is convicted. Mrs Collins refuses to believe her boy is one of his victims, and continues to look for him the rest of her life.
     This is based on a true story, but with many chnages. See The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders. for the full story. Clint Eastwood’s problem was how to present it with both dramatic tension (since the general outlines of the story will be known by many movie-goers) and a plausible characterisation of the main actors. All the actors turn in plausible performances, aided by above average writing. Eastwood and his editor know how to cut the shots so that the narrative rhythm matches the tension of the story. The photography is in muted colours, which has become a cliché for stories set in the early 20th century, mimicking the photos of the time.
We didn’t expect the movie to be as good as it is. Recommended ***½

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