Tuesday, 2 December 2008

REVIEW: Changeling

In the last 5 to ten years Clint Eastwood has gone from star of B rate cop pictures to one of the most successful directors in hollywood. And to be fair he's made some good films. None of them great though, only seemingly able to hit with Oscar voters. Changeling does not buck this trend, contunuing his trend of B- pictures in fine slightly above mediocre style. Yet another story regarding a missing or murdered child, we see Angelina Jolie as a mother of a boy who disappears, and the police return to her a different child, adamently claiming that it is her son. The film then follows her as she seeks the whereabouts of her true son, whilst dealing with intense police corruption along the way.

You can see why elder film viewers love Clint Eastwood. His films are always to the point, look good without being flashy and feature strong, simple emotional arcs. It suits this film, but in a way prevents it, or any others he makes for that matter from being truly great, as there are always a strange mater of fact quality to them. That is present here also, with the film branching away from its central story to ensure all narrative bases are covered, somewhat taking us out of our heroine's plight. The film, as all Eastwood pictures seem to be, is fantastically acted and while Jolie essentially does a retread of her Mighty Heart role, only with murdered son replacing muredered husband, its still effective in a broad way. The role is a little simple though, and I don't think she deserves an oscar nomination for it, even though she'll probably get one. I got more from Jason Butler Harner's snivelling child molester and Burn Notice's own Jeffrey Donovan as the corrupt cop in charge of the investigation. John Malkovich seemed to be in one of his taking the money roles, looking slightly bored and not really bringing all that much to it. Similarly, a small role by child actor Eddie Alderson, playing Harner's reluctant accomplice is quite affecting and makes one wish more time was given to his character.

The script is functional if not flamboyant, telling us what we need to know, but only parts of it are memorable and its long running time is not justified. Worth seeing for compelling drama, but not much here is above the ordinary, instead we are left with a workman-like solid enough film, much like Mystic River or Million Dollar Baby or Flags of our Fathers. Eastwood needs to do something better if he wants to be remembered for something more then denying a load of superior directors Oscar recognition.

Rating: 7/10

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