CHANGELING - in folklore, a child who is secretly substituted for another one by fairies.
This film is painfully slow at times. Don’t go looking for laughs, there are none.
Angelina Jolie is often left holding the entire film together by herself and she does fine with that burden. I had written her off, I have not liked her work in the last four films I saw her in and
I hated her in "A MIGHTY HEART." She makes a grand comeback in this production, maybe she just needed a strong director to point her to the right path for her character's development.
There are enough storylines for four feature films in this one movie.
Now the good news, director Clint Eastwood knows his business.
In a city full of corruption, a brilliant cast of characters ride to the rescue: crusading minister, John Malkovich, honest detective, Michael Kelly, fierce attorney, Geoff Pierson, courageous prostitute, Amy Ryan, the remorseful teenager who told the truth, Eddie Alderson and even sadist, Jason Butler Harner.
The characters I mention bring life to the story -they lift it up and make it special, when it appears to be going no where.
The attorney just over-powers anyone who crosses his path and I wish he had more screen time. The other villains, besides J.B. Harner, were also well played.
The scenes in the mental hospital are scary - you can't prove you are sane, if you are in an insane world -- it is a Catch 22 situation - if you act normal in a crazy world, that is insane and if you act insane in an insane world, you are insane. If you diagree with anyone in a position of authority, that is considered insanity, since they must know best.
Hang in during the slow development and you will be rewarded for your patience.
This film will be an Academy Award finalist in March 2009.
COMMENT FROM PAUL HENNING - NEW YORK
Eastwood always hires the best character actors--Amy Ryan, who was robbed last year in the Academy Awards, for the role of the drug addict mother in GONE, BABY GONE--was great as the mistreated prostitute in the mental asylum--and Denis O'Hare, who played the unethical psychiatric doctor. Even small roles like the school teacher and Jolie's boss at the phone company were particularly well done.
Everyone of Eastwood's movies--whatever you think of it-- is solidly made by a
craftsman, who has respect for the whole craft of film making, and respect for the intelligence of his audience.