Bolstered by a strong, heartfelt & compelling performance from Angelina Jolie, Changeling is a competently crafted & sincerely narrated feature that brings its real life inspired story to cinematic life in a calm, composed & captivating manner and is another quality addition to Clint Eastwood’s directorial oeuvre.
Set in Los Angeles during the late 1920s, the story of Changeling follows a single mother whose son goes missing one day. The ensuing investigation ends with the police finding a boy who fits the boy’s description. But when she complains that the kid they found isn’t her son, the cops dismiss her as a liar & try to silence her.
Directed by Clint Eastwood (best known for Unforgiven & Million Dollar Baby), the film follows a conventional path and hits a few rough patches in between but the interest in the case & the mystery surrounding the fate of the missing boy is never lost. Eastwood directs the story with patience & comfort and recreates the period setting in fine detail.
The script is smartly structured, letting out only required details at a time, which keeps the drama in motion. Camerawork is controlled for the most part. Editing is a bit on the slow side and the story could have used a better pace. Eastwood also composed the background score that silently complements the plot, rarely making its presence felt.
But it’s Angelina Jolie’s powerful, heartbreaking & emotionally resonant rendition of a grief-stricken mother that steers this story past the finish line, for it is one of her finest acts and is also a departure from her typical roles. The supporting cast also chip in with good inputs, especially John Malkovich & Jeffrey Donovan but it is Jolie’s show all the way.
On an overall scale, Changeling explores the themes of female disempowerment & political corruption with frankness and benefits a lot from the satisfying work that its faithful cast puts in. There was room for improvement no doubt but the end result is nonetheless an interesting cinema that delivers the goods under Eastwood’s assured direction & Jolie’s commanding performance. Definitely worth a shot.