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Angelina Jolie stars as Christine Collins whose nine-year old son vanished from their Los Angeles home in 1928. She met with little cooperation from the police, and when they finally found the boy and brought him back home, she said, "That's not my son."

This movie was based on a true story and directed by Clint Eastwood in a gritty, no-frills style. There isn't a lot of action, but it definitely holds your interest until the very end. Jolie gives a strong performance as the mother who wouldn't stop looking for her son, even when she battled the corrupt police chief. Jolie is on-screen just about every minute and is a formidable screen presence. She and the rest of the cast, including John Malkovich, are all good in this very somber and intense piece.

The costumes, sets, and locations are perfectly done in 1920s style and the photography uses a lot of natural light adding to the old-fashioned feel. The movie about a mother's love and police corruption is fascinating, but it's also relentlessly grim and left me feeling quite depressed. A well-made movie, though.
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on 6 February 2009
Changeling is a gripping movie for adults - 'manna for grown ups' as one reviewer rightly called it. Angelina Jolie turns in a terrific performance as Christine Collins, a demure single mother in 1920's Los Angeles whose missing son becomes a rallying point for the oppressed citizens of LA, suffering under the boot of a ruthlessly corrupt police force and mayoralty.

But as Christine struggles with an impostor son that a disinterested LA police force has preposterously tried to fob her off with as her own there's a big twist when another young boy is arrested in a routine deportation case and does he have a story to tell. A tale so horrifying that it would instantly qualify as any parents worst nightmare. When I saw this film in the cinema the packed out audience gasped - literally gasped out loud - during the confession scene between this kid and the police officer.

Jolie has never been quite this good and though she stays commendably in character as a demure mother who doesn't want to make a fuss, she brings a fantastic larger than life movie star presence to her role that she seems able to turn on and off at will. She's a terrific actress in the body of a goddess and watching her evokes so much of the spirit of a Rita Hayworth or a Joan Crawford in their luminous prime. But she's not the only star here. One of the great pleasures of Changeling is watching so many unknown character actors given the chance to strut their stuff and, boy, do they take it. So take a bow Jason Butler Harner as Gordon Northcott, Eddie Alderson as Nothcott's in-fear-of-his-life nephew, Jeffrey Donovan as a pig-headed Oirish cop and Michael Kelly as seemingly the only honest policeman in LA. They're all fantastic.

The script is just as outstanding, moving effortlessly from one genre to another - part period crime thriller, part psycho ward drama, part serial killer movie, part courtroom procedural. It begins small and then expands to take in political corruption, the status of women in the 1920's, the way children and adults view the same event, and the satisfaction (or not) of capital punishment. What's most impressive is the way Clint Eastwood orchestrates all of this because Changeling shifts gears so smoothly that one remains completely transfixed, indeed amazed, throughout.

Changeling represents a notable development in Eastwood's evolution as a filmmaker. Never before has he handled such a sprawling, multi-stranded story with such ease or confidence.

There's also a real sense of anger as Eastwood leaves us in no doubt how he feels about the way Collins - and the other female victims of the pernicious Code 12 which allowed the police to toss anyone they disapproved of into the madhouse - were treated by the authorities. Indeed, the endless parade of true life stories in which police and social services are found to have victimised single mothers in order to cover up their own incompetence means that Changeling carries a genuine contemporary resonance as a cautionary tale.

Amazon's editorial review suggests the film goes on to long and sags in the final stretch. I couldn't disagree more. In fact I think this is one of the best edited movies I have seen in a long while. The multiple storylines and shifting emotional moods are so well captured by Joel Cox and Gary Roach's editing that they deserved an Oscar nomination in themselves. The technical aspects are also top notch throughout and how pleasing it is to see a period piece in which the sets and costumes never once overwhelm the characters or the story. Eastwood's lovely score is the icing on the cake.

Changeling was the first of two masterful Eastwood movies in 2008, the other being Gran Torino. Both come highly recommended for those hungering for movies the way they used to make 'em (and I mean that in the best possible sense).
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on 29 November 2008
Angelina Jolie gives a storming performance as a single mother, in 1928 Los Angeles, whose 9 year old son goes missing. This is based on a part of the true story of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, and not "based on" in that slightly tenuous way that's rife within Hollywood - it pretty much chronicles the way it happened, down to the minor details.

The Los Angeles Police Department back then was corrupt, but not in the way we understand corruption in this day and age. They were crime lords, in control of prostitutes and drugs, and the Chief of Police created a unit called the "Gun Squad". Essentially, a group of machine-gun toting animals who openly murdered anyone who was competition, and did so while wearing the badge - no fuss no muss, no investigations, no questions asked.

So when this very dangerous, very corrupt police department organise a very public reunion between Christine Collins and her son, and she sees that the boy in front of her isn't her own, where can she turn? The rest of the movie attempts to answer that question. It fails, though. Not because the movie fails, but because the system - such as it was - failed in 1928.

When her child first went missing, she was met with indifference and red tape by the authorities; she was left to wander the streets looking for him for 24 hours. It's unimaginable given today's culture and response when it comes to the safety of our children.

We're used to seeing scenes where the house is filled to capacity; police file in and out constantly, the FBI comfort the parents while tapping the phones, and Family Liaison Officers stay 24 hours a day to lend support. That's what we're used to, and that's what we expect, so to see her completely alone, unable to get people's attention, is a genuine shock to the system. By the same token, today we have DNA testing, independent review boards and investigations into corruption within statuatory bodies, sexual equality where women are no longer the overly emotional "little lady"... and seeing how different it was then, how different it would have been for this woman, is truly awful. And when you see her having to share her home with this stranger instead of her child, it makes you feel claustrophobic and trapped on her behalf.

The film is *beautiful* to look at. The colour green features heavily, and most scenes are flooded with natural light (both of which very cleverly add to the feeling of disorientation and panic because if we're not safe when it's green, and wide open and in the light, when are we safe?) Equally, LA looks stunning - the 20s was a beautiful period aesthetically, and Clint Eastwood (he directed) absolutely revels in it. It's sumptuous - a visually awesome example of a rotting core beneath a sublime exterior.

But despite its beauty, Changeling is bleak, and cold, and a degree of hopelessness will stay with you for a long while after the credits have rolled.
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on 9 September 2013
Friends of mine told me this was a good film. They recommended it warmly. And I still didn't expect it to be *this* good.
The story in itself is incredible enough, I mean, of course it deserves to be recount as a story (all the events actually happened in 1920s Los Angeles). But what gripped me was the execution.
The setting is so accurate and so vivid you really think to be there. The pace of the film is just right. There isn't much action, because this is mostly an intimate story, but emotions comes to the viewer so strongly - through events and characters' actions and reactions that are always logic and never over the top - that you naturally feel involved. You naturally feel for this mother.

But I think what really involved me in the story so much are the characters and the actors.
All the actors are outstanding, in my opinion, no matter how long or short they appeared on the screen. I liked John Malkovich and Michael Kelly in particular, although they both appear on screen for limited time (Kelly only appears in the very last part of the film).
But it's Angelina Jolie's performance that really stayed with me. She was intense as Christine Collins, this single mother that fights against everyone to get her child back. She was always demurred, never over the top, and still so emotionally invested that this viewer could only root for her from start to end.

Warmly recommended.
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on 24 May 2016
Disturbing subject matter but fascinating nonetheless.
I think John Malkovich is first class in this movie.
I'm not overly familiar with Angelina Jolie's work but she carries a difficult part very well.
Clint Eastwood as sure as ever.
I can't say this is one of my favourite Eastwood movies and that is no reflection on the man.
For me the subject matter is unsettling.
That said this is a well acted period movie and it tells a sad story admirably.
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VINE VOICEon 2 January 2009
The year is 1928. When Christine Collins' 9 year old son Walter vanishes from their home in suburban Los Angeles, normality crumbles around her.

After months of anguish, hope is restored when police Captain J.J. Jones gives Christine the news that Walter has been found and escorts her to the station for an emotional public reunion. That's when the real nightmare begins. Christine swears that the boy isn't her son. The police refuse to believe her: the last thing that the institutionally corrupt LAPD needs is bad publicity.

Dealing with emotive and disturbing themes including child abduction, murder and the control of "socially deviant" women by powerful, "rational" men, the film draws its dramatic strength from a well-paced, almost understated, narrative. It is probably fair to say that, whilst it does not set out to shock, the film does contain scenes which some people will find distressing.

High production values, giving a strong sense of time and place, combine with flawless performances and a first rate script to make Changeling a masterpiece of the film-maker's craft.
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on 6 September 2012
I've got to confess...
I have a slight problem.
Here's what I do:

1) Buy lots of DVDs at once. Coming home to a bunch of post in like Christmas every day, not that I recommend this.
2) Those DVDs sit there for a while, sometimes months or years, neglected.

I did curb my addiction, but recently decided to skim through some highly favourable films on Amazon. One's I'd not watched before.

Changeling was one of those films.
However, step 2 was happening.
Earlier today, me and my girlfriend couldn't decide (or agree) on what to watch.
I suggested Big (with Tom Hanks) - another DVD that'd come through the post (though I had seen that) - and she said this. She'd watched it before and despite being very persistent with saying it was a great film, (though not fully remembering the plot) I was in one of my 'Mehhh' moods, feeling like I didn't want to watch anything drama, or heavy in plot. "BIG!" I insisted.

Anyway, we ended up flipping for it and her film (this) won out.

Skip forward a couple of hours or so and I say, "Thank you for making me watch that".

This film is absolutely incredible, and if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favour and see it!

Here's an overview of the plot:

Christine Collins (played by Ms. Jolie) is the (single) Mother to her only child, Walter.
The film is based on a true story, surrounding some serial killings in the 1920's.
It's not exactly what happened (I found out, after a quick check on Wikipedia) but, My God, it's a very twisty, turny, on-the-edge-of-your-seat film.
One day, Christine comes home to find her Son has gone missing.
5 months later, the LAPD (L.A. Police) contact Christine to tell her they have her Son.
She is taken to the train station to be re-united, but when she sees 'her Son', she is adamant that it is not her Son at all.
Regardless of telling the police this, they persist by saying she's still in Shock and he's been through Trauma, so won't look exactly the same.

I had no idea what would happen as the scenes played out.
I thought perhaps the Mother was deluded after all.
I forgot that this film was based on something that actually happened, so I kept feeling frightened by the fact that this did really take place. Serial killings, 9/11, the Holocaust ... Boy, do we live in a crazy World?

This film kept me gripped throughout (and I'm pretty much a fidget with attention deficit disorder), it contains some massively emotional/dramatic scenes, an excellent cast and phenomenal acting. At times, I really wanted to step through my TV to give Christine a hug and reassurance. There are some characters you will be guaranteed to despise. It's a film that will pull you in, if you are human. I can't criticize or fault it. Nothing feels put on. Everything feels so real.
The ending left me pretty speechless.

Everyone should see this film.

By the way, I apologise if I've spelt anything like an American.
Google Chrome makes me question myself.
No, Chrome, Apologise is spelt with an S, not a Z!

5 Stars.
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on 1 December 2008
First off, I just have to say that Angelina Jolie is now my personal hero! After promoting herself as 'sex on legs' in a number of previous films, she proves here that she's definitely not just a pretty face- Beneath those big round eyes and incredible lips, there's actually a very deep and intelligent young woman. If she doesn't get an Oscar for this role, I'll officially make a declaration of insanity.

In Changeling, she plays Christine Collins- A middle-class, middle-aged single mother who's devoted to only two things in life: Her job, and her son. One day, she comes home to an empty house. Her son has gone missing. After a few months of searching and grieving, the police inform her that they've found her son... However, things get a whole lot more complicated when Christine soon realizes that the boy the police have found, is not her son.

What begins as a mildly intriguing mystery thriller soon evolves into a very controversial, incredibly powerful, and overwhelmingly emotional struggle against government and time. It's based on a true story- the famous Chicken Coop Killings in which a man manipulated a young orphan boy into murdering almost 20 other children. As usual with Clint Eastwood, the facts come brutal and honest, and those with weak stomachs may struggle whilst watching some scenes.

Anyone aware of Clint Eastwood's previous work (Million Dollar Baby, Flags Of Our Fathers etc) will recognize the usual 1920s style set-pieces, perfect casting, utterly amazing script, and heavily emotional story. For others, Changeling will require a fair amount of concentration in order to follow the story and enjoy the ride... Oh, and what a ride it is. When the credits came, everyone in the packed theatre room was totally stunned. Nobody knew what to say, or do, or think, or feel. It was a very memorable experience.

In summary, Changeling automatically joins the ranks of The Dark knight, No Country For Old Men, and even There Will Be Blood. Go and see it in the cinema before it slips away onto DVD. You will not be disappointed.
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VINE VOICEon 3 February 2009
`Changeling' stars Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins, a single mother in living in Los Angeles in 1928. On Saturday morning she is called into work, having to leave her young son alone for a while. When she returns a few hours later, he has vanished. Months later, a boy claiming to be her son is returned. After the initial shock and being pushed frequently by reporters and the LAPD, Christine knows this is not her son and pushes authorities to keep looking. She is accused of being delusional and is put into a psychotic ward but finds an ally in activist Reverend Briegleb (John Malkovich), who helps her look for her missing boy.

`Changeling' is quite a hard film to review really as although I did enjoy it, I found that it did drag a lot throughout the film and could have been much shorter. I liked how it showed how different things are between the 1920s/30s and today with regards to how women were unable to fight the system back then and be heard and also enjoyed the excellent performance from Jolie who plays the distraught mother fighting for what she believes is the truth against superiors. However a lot of the time it felt like the film was stuck and not a lot was going on. The beginning and end of this film were excellent and very exciting and interesting but the middle was very slow and found myself day-dreaming on various occasions, which made me think that this film could have been cut to be at least 20 minutes shorter to keep the viewer's attention.

It is a very good film that is definitely worth a watch but is one where you will need 100% attention as it is not an easy watch due to it being pretty slow paced and at several points, a little repetitive. Not the film of the year by a long short but is worth checking out for the outstanding performances by Jolie and Malkovich.
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VINE VOICEon 12 February 2011
I don't like Angelina Jolie and find Clint Eastwood Productions are often superficial,watchable but lacking depth.On both counts,this film proved me wrong.It was with some trepidation that myself and my wife sat down to watch this film.From the first moment to the last,in excess of two hours,it grips you and you won't want to miss a minute.Based on a true story of a working mum who leaves her Son to go work and returns home to find him gone.The film is set in the 1920's and the attention to detail is amazing.The LAPD are corrupt and manufacture a situation that they hope will stop them having to search for yet another missing boy.The acting and script are superb and Blu-ray just adds to the film.There are many twists and turns to ensure you can't predict what will happen next.Highly recommended,i can't remember watching a better,more engrossing film.
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