Movie Review:
Jolie shines in ‘Changeling’
Posted Nov. 14, 2008

What could be more heart wrenching than a mother searching for her missing son? It is hard to believe that anyone could portray more emotion on screen than Angelina Jolie.

In “Changeling,” audiences are treated to a truly haunting performance by Brad Pitt’s other half.

It is easy to get caught up in the tabloid lives of Brangelina. How can anyone concentrate on the story at hand?

But Jolie (an Oscar winner for “Girl Interrupted”) is able to adeptly play the role of Christine Collins, creating a passionate and tortured character that lifts the film from melodrama to masterpiece.

Clint Eastwood takes a stoic turn at directing, and his efforts result in the compelling story of a real life 1928 event that occurred in Los Angeles.

The story is so chilling and suspenseful that the realism only helps to remind the audience that the horrifying events really did happen.

The film is even more relevant and exciting to viewers near this area because the film was shot mostly in downtown San Dimas.

Streets are instantly recognizable, and the choice of location perfectly suits the time period. Plus, for locals, it is fun to spot the various areas captured on film.

Although the sets are a key element of the movie, the strongest aspect of the film remains the storyline.

The movie opens with Collins spending time with her 9-year-old son Walter.

The mother and son seem extremely close, which helps explain the true terror, when the next day Collins discovers that her son is missing.

After several months of searching tirelessly for her son, the Los Angeles Police Department (that has received tons of bad press because of being corrupt) brings back another boy, who they claim is Walter.

Jolie’s face registers emotion after emotion, and her acting ability is demonstrated with her eyes – she rarely has lines of dialogue, just emotions that are displayed silently.

Even after giving the police evidence that the boy is not her own, the entire LAPD insists that they are heroes, and that Collins must be insane for insisting that they still find her son; the police continue to claim that they can’t look for a boy whom they have already found.

The film takes several twists that will not be mentioned, so the audience can experience the more surprising moments in the film.

But there are more than enough shocking elements to the movie – made even more remarkable because they are based on true events.

However, if the movie were just sustained by its plotline, there would not be enough to raise Oscar buzz.

So, it is the acting in “Changeling” that might get the film whispered in the same breath as a possible Academy Award nomination.

Jolie is downright impressive as a mother who will stop at nothing to bring her son home.

Her unforgettable and disturbing scream, “I want my son back!” is sure to ring in audience’s ears for some time to come.

And without giving anything away, this film has a scene with the singing of “Silent Night” that will surely ruin the innocence of the Christmas carol forever.

John Malkovich also turns in an influential performance as Collin’s one crusader, Rev. Gustav Briegleb.

But it is Oscar nominee Amy Ryan (most recently seen as Holly in “The Office”) who almost steals the movie away from Jolie.

Ryan appears as Carol Dexter, a hard as nails gal who shows Collins what it means to put up a fight.

Without this immensely talented supporting cast, the film surely would not have been as moving as it is.

See this movie not only for its unpredictability and the true-life adaptation, but also for the standout performances by Jolie and Ryan.

Erin Konrad can be reached at

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Movie Review:
Jolie shines in ‘Changeling’


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