Rating – *****


I’d only heard the word “changeling” used once before and it was in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. So naturally I assumed this film would centre around the bounty hunter Zam Wessel. You’ll all remember how she attempts to assassinate Padme Amidala on Couruscant under the instructions of Jango Fett. I’m sure you’ll be just as shocked to discover that a changeling is also defined as “a child secretly exchanged for another”. Apparently they chose to go with the latter option.

Clint Eastwood demonstrates once again that he is still one of the most consistently brilliant filmmakers around. Changeling is based on a true story, as gripping as it is baffling. It’s hard to believe that this ever actually happened and that’s what makes it so compelling. A tragic kidnapping escalates into a far reaching scandal which exposes the ugliest secrets of a corrupt legal system. The choices made by some members of the LAPD are sickening, cowardly and hard for anybody with a soul to contemplate. Once again, this all actually happened!

Angelina Jolie delivers a flawless performance, skilfully avoiding clichés which would have dragged the film into schmaltz. The cinematography is rich and stylish yet restrained, never drawing attention away from the cast. The only criticisms are likely to come from the films length. I was never bored but there is a noticeable change in the structure around the two hour mark. This was probably unavoidable due to the nature of the story. Mysteries like this never wrap up cleanly in real life, they drag on for years of uncertainty and unanswered questions. So although the “Return of the King syndrome” is there, it didn’t bother me as the material in every single frame is so rewarding. For me, Changeling is an instant classic. Films in this genre don’t get any better. There are elements of Mystic River, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, LA Confidential, Capote, and even Silence of the Lambs. Changeling comfortably ranks alongside this esteemed company.

~ by thewholebuffalo on July 18, 2009.

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