A Film by Clint EastwoodClint Eastwood is one of my favorite Directors, I have loved each and everyone of his directed films I have watched. I recently watched J.Edgar (which I very much enjoyed and you can count on me writing about that in the near future), and it gave me the urge to revisit Changeling, one of my absolute favorite of Eastwoods directed films, and also the one I feel is one of his most under appreciated.
Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) returns from work one night to find her young son Walter missing, shocked and horrified she calls the LAPD only to be shut down and told they were not able to do anything until 24 hours and that 99 out of 100 times the kid shows up by morning. This would begin a series of horrific events in Christine`s life that would last several years. At the time the LAPD had been under a lot of scrutiny over allegations of corruption and greed by a local reverend played by John Malkovich, who makes it his personal goal to exploit all the LAPD’s wrong doings on his local radio program. Something both the Chief of police and one of his Captains do not appreciate.
After several weeks of investigations Christine Collins gets a visit from Police Captain J.J Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) with news that her son has been found, and is alive. Overwhelmed by joy she immediately breaks into tears, however her joy is short lived. To her shock and horror, when she is lead by the Police accompanied by a slew of press, to be reunited with her missing boy, it’s not him. They had brought her the wrong boy. “That’s not my son!” She cries only to be ignored by Capt. Jones, who insists it is her son and that he has merely changed over the past months and once she spends some time with him she will realize this, a statement that’s utter absurdity reaches far and beyond almost anything I have ever heard. Stricken with shock and horror a flustered Christine Collins is forced to pose for a press photo and is sent on her way with this strange boy, however faith has now been restored in the LAPD, something that could be quickly lost if they admit to such a grave error.
The events that would follow I will not go into detail to avoid spoilers. However I can say they go far and beyond unbelievable. As a matter of fact had this not been based on a true story, and was a work of fiction, the events of the film would seem far too hard to believe even plausible. As if they had entered some sort of fictional twilight zone-like alternate dimension. Unfortunately for Christine Collins that is not the fact, and the events portrayed did in fact happen. She would be forced to fight a long and truly terrible battle for her son with only the aid of a persistent Reverend Gustav Briegleb and a few locals.
The Changeling is a superb film, and Clint Eastwood’s visionary style comes through as clear as glass, but what Eastwood really has a talent for is bringing the absolute best out of his cast. Everyone from our leads, Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, and Jeffrey Donavan, to each and every secondary character shine in their roles. One performance in particular that stands out, though rather small, is Geoff Pearson (who some may know as the dad from Unhappily Ever After, or as Deputy Chief Matthews on Dexter) who plays Christine`s eventual attorney. He jumps in later in the film and steals every scene. Quickly he becomes one of the most memorable characters in the film.
I say with no hesitation that Changeling was one of the best films of 2008, and one I strongly urge anyone who has yet to see it to do themselves a favor and check it out!