Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Lifetime of Pain

The new film Changeling tells a true story: In 1928, the son of Christine Collins (a single mother) disappeared. In order to find him, Christine had to go up against a corrupt Los Angeles Police Department and fight for them to continue the search, even though they kept telling her it was over. And of course, this was 1928, so a woman standing up for herself and fighting back against the police department (or any government office, for that matter) was not looked at so fondly. But Christine persevered, and with the help of an activist reverend, she made a difference in the Los Angeles legal system. No, Changeling is not a made-for-TV movie for the Lifetime network. It's an actual big-screen movie starring Angelina Jolie (and John Malkovich) and directed by Clint Eastwood. And while Jolie is fine here, this is not one for her highlight reel.

Changeling really does belong on Lifetime with all the other melodramas. Like those films, it forces the star to spend much of the movie crying and yelling — what a change from A Mighty Heart, Jolie's last missing person drama, in which her performance was more subtle and measured. Some of the dialogue in this very slow-moving movie is a bit laughable, and one key child actor is, well, let's just say Clint should stick to adult actors. I don't want to completely trash Changeling because truth be told, it's not an awful movie. But throughout, I couldn't help but think the lead should have been played by Valerie Bertinelli or Meredith Baxter, and that Jolie should go back to making movies that are more worthy of her. No wonder this one isn't getting the big promotional push that other films with this caliber of talent would receive. Changeling only rates a B– from me.



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