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Review byMatthew Turner25/11/2008

Changeling Press Conference

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 141 mins

Beautifully made, emotionally gripping drama with a powerful central performance by Angelina Jolie that's sure to attract Oscar buzz.

What's it all about?
Directed by Clint Eastwood, Changeling is based on a fascinating true story and stars Angelina Jolie as Christine, a single mother in 1928 Los Angeles who works as a telephone operator. When her nine-year-old son Walter (Gattlin Griffith) goes missing, she's utterly distraught, but that's nothing compared to her horror when, five months later, the police give her another boy (Devon Conti), claiming he's her child and forcing her to pose for press photos of the happy reunion.

When Christine tries to confront them with evidence of their mistake, the police chief (Colm Feore) and captain (Jeffrey Donovan) have her committed to a mental asylum, without any recourse to legal process. However, local preacher Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich) believes Christine and takes up her cause as part of his crusade against police corruption.

The Good
Angelina Jolie delivers a compelling performance, painting Christine as a woman who was simultaneously courageous and yet frighteningly vulnerable - her helplessness in the face of Code 12 (an actual law that enabled the police to commit anyone they deemed difficult) is genuinely terrifying. There's also strong support from Malkovich and a brief but powerful cameo from Amy Ryan as a fellow prisoner who helps Christine deal with her imprisonment.

The production design is stunning throughout and the attention to detail is nothing short of astonishing, from Christine's steel rollerskates (over heels) on the telephone exchange line to the red streetcars and the recreation of the 1920s LA skyline. The costume design is equally impressive, particularly Jolie's green dress and hat ensemble, which recalls a famous Edward Hopper painting.

The Great
The script is grimly fascinating throughout, though the story meanders a little towards the end as it tries to offer some kind of explanation and becomes part thriller, part police corruption drama.

Worth seeing?
In short, Changeling is a beautifully shot, impeccably designed and superbly acted drama that packs a powerful emotional punch. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 26/02/2020 01:14

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