Changeling (2008)

Changeling (2008)
  • Time: 140 min
  • Genre: Drama | History | Mystery
  • Director: Clint Eastwood
  • Cast: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Michael Kelly

Single parent Christine Collins is a supervisor at the local telephone exchange who, having returned home late from having to work overtime on a Saturday, finds her 9 year old son Walter is missing from their home. As the days and weeks go by, the Collins case becomes the object of a campaign by Pastor Gustav Briegleb who rails against the incompetence and corruption of the Los Angeles police Department. Soon, the police arrive with the news that they have found her boy but when the lad is turned over to her, she realizes that the police have returned a stranger to her in an attempt to bring an end to the public complaints about their handling of her case. Her attempts to get justice bring her into conflict with the LAPD who will go to any length to protect their reputation. When she continues to complain she finds herself arrested and confined to the mental ward.


  • “Changeling” is a film that you just can’t take your eyes off. The story, based on actual events, hooks you in fast and really grabs hold. It’s very good in that aspect because it really makes you care about what happens. “Changeling” has everything a good film should have and moves you in ways that may surprise you. Angelina Jolie gives a great performance and deserved the Oscar nomination, you totally believe she is experiencing these things. Clint Eastwood did such a good job directing this film. This one is certainly worth seeing!

  • Changeling 2008 StrangeFilmBox

    When Hollywood producers have a story idea that is set in the past, they have limited choices for their choice of filming locations. That’s certainly the case if they want to keep a handle on the budget. When they have a movie set in the early 20th century, then there is only one location they’re gonna use. They’re gonna use the easiest – which is 100 Universal City Plaza.
    Universal Studios have a back-lot set in Los Angeles that comprises a few wide streets surrounded by high tenements and administrative buildings. The streets look exactly like New York, Downtown LA, and Chicago of a hundred years ago. Or at least, that’s what we have been led to believe. The problem is that everything we see is influenced by what we’ve been told. And many, many movies show us this exact-same street. Hollywood has told us, – this is what a 1920s street looks like – and we believe it. Who’s to know?

    I went on a tour to 100 Universal City Plaza once – I watched a Blues Brothers set whilst eating candy-floss. There are rides, queues of big Americans in loose shorts, character lookee-likees. I felt I was livin’ the dream.
    Anyway, if you’ve (already) got it, use it. And the Producers of Changeling did just that.
    You will have seen this self-same street a thousand times in a hundred movies.:- The same Model ‘T’ Fords, same cabs. The same shop fronts. Different camera angles probably.
    Familiarity creates ease – and these streets are comforting. No horse droppings anywhere.
    The interiors in this movie are great too. For my money, the interior sets are the stars of Changeling 2008:
    An electric tram slowly rattles and sways on narrow rails. It’s normal cargo – Chuck and Chelsea from Carlsbad, chewing on Shrek’s rib-flavored cheese twizzles – are standing behind the cameras, gazing dumbly into the middle distance. Brown juice dripping down the fronts of their white ‘T’s.
    More impressive than the street, are the interiors: There’s an old telephone exchange with innumerable chattering women plugging and unplugging. Angelina Jolie’s house and inside the ‘hospital’ – they are all aged, painted in green and shiny institutional gloss. They feel genuine because they are idealized, and the cinematographer was also very clever with his green wash-out filter. It’s like looking at the architectural interiors displays at the New York Met. Or like the street entrance of the Chrysler Building. Subdued light, brown panelling and small Bakelite switches.
    There’s also an outside-location shot in the desert. A dusty and dilapidated hovel – a rag-tag ranch – seemingly slipped off the main highway into a patch of lost memories.
    All wonderful and perfect vignettes of ancient history.

    The counterpoint to these wonderful backgrounds is the ‘action’. The foreground.
    This camera is almost exclusively focused exclusively on Angelina Jolie. She plays a single mother, wears a too-low cloche hat and overly red lipstick.
    She is slow. I am struggling to find any other description. Slow.
    There is a lack of focus in her eyes – an absence of vigour. No energy in her movements. It’s like she’s in mourning for something lost. She is either pre-occupied with stuff, or simply just empty-headed – it’s difficult to tell. She drifts from one scene to the next – expressionless and stiff.

    Then she does lose something. Something pretty important…
    And what is so unsettling, and ultimately so disheartening is Angelina Jolie continues to go slow. I see no bodily response to the impact of this enormous loss.
    Yes, she says her lines – which are all about loss and disbelief. Her lips move (slightly) and her eyes dart around a bit in their orbits. They even open slightly wider. Nothing else changes. Her arms continue to dangle at her sides, her steps are unhurried, and her shoulders are low.
    As low as her hat.

    And suddenly, there’s a chance of her reversing her loss… But again, no change in pace. Still plodding on small shoes.

    And suddenly, the narrative puts her in a state of envigourment. Consumed with self-righteous vigour. Still no change. No pick up in speed, or energy. Or her feet.
    She continues to mope, her arms by her sides.

    And by now, Clint Eastwood, the director, is pulling his hair out. How to get this woman to act? In desperation, he creates a character to befriend AJ’s character: Straight out of a 1970s New York cop movie, Carol has bushy blonde hair and a modern smile – a prostitute for some irrelevant and unconvincing reason. They exchange a few polite pleasantries over their lunch.
    But of course, Actor and Star Angelina Jolie refuses to play along for Eastwood – she declines the invite to find chemistry with her ‘new friend’. Their farewell on screen is a brief nod combined with some desperate post-production editing by Eastwood in an effort to scrape together some empathy.

    And because Angelina Jolie, and the movie were so pedestrian, I spent the entire time watching this woman as she wandered around the sets.
    And I had an epiphany. There it was – a side shot of her in her hat.
    And then I knew that I now knew Angelina.
    And it was good:
    The long ski-jump of a nose. Big round eyes, exaggerated lashes in colourfully painted detail. Large flattened impact lips. Bright red.
    Chiselled cheeks and nose. A long equine face.

    And I saw she was wearing a mask – one of the masks that had influenced Picasso so many years ago when he painted Les Demoiselle.

    And then I also understood how she prepares for work:
    She sits in her dressing room and pulls on a mask – one with holes for the eyes, and one for the mouth. And like a frightened cat, she peers out through the holes at the camera – scared to move too much, scared to make too much noise. Frightened eyes darting, her lips fixed and puckered. Terrified near to death.
    And this fear runs down her body like thick hot molasses. And it slows her steps, restricts her movements – keeping her safe within a self-imposed cage.

    And I realised why she is such a bad actor: It’s because she is scared. She can barely control herself. If she should move too quickly, then her morning Roibosh will end up running down her legs to pool in her beautiful crocodile shoes.
    If she swing her arms too high, or turn a corner too fast, she’d stumble and fall. And that would make her look like a normal person and she would be un-masked.

    Changeling 2008 has other characters of course: They move well. And more importantly, they actively disrupt the one-speed pacing that Angelina Jolie imposes on the narrative.
    They act well.
    Indeed, they act! – Doug Stamper from House of Cards 2013; the killer boy with the old face; Northcott, the ranch-owner. He steals the show:
    Why, oh why, wasn’t Northcott made the central character of this story? His brittle energy, his deep insecurity and rampant psychoses can be seen coursing through every fibre of his body like a fungus. So unpredictable, I began to believe in the story – I was even scared for Angelina’s stockings for a moment, but then I realised she’d already pi**ed herself earlier in the movie.

    Changeling 2008 – A summary.

    Pity the director for struggling in vain to get a performance from “the star”.

    Pity the integrity of this “true story” – the Dementors arrived with the opening titles and sucked out its soul.

    Pity the long-dead ‘players’ for being portrayed with such heavy-handed amateurism.

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