Kerry Meech 11/12/2008
Having spent the past few years adopting the world and adding fuel to the tabloid fodder, it's little wonder Angelina Jolie even has the time to read a script, let alone actually appear in a movie. However, with her recent outing Changeling, not only does she appear in it, she owns it, bringing to her performance the poise and magnetism which defined the performances of her early career. Forget Lara Croft, Jolie is Superwoman.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, Changeling tells the controversial story of Christine Collins, a single mother who upon finding her son missing from their family home embarks upon a journey, which not only exposed the ruthlessness and corruption of the LAPD, but explores the ideas of civil rights, social justice and motherhood.
From the moment Collins is reunited with her 'son', and we learn that the boy the LAPD have reunited her with may not actually be her son, but a ploy by which to disguise their unsuccessful search, the audience is catapulted into a world in which those in authority “shoot and ask questions later”. From this moment on Jolie carries the movie with an astonishing performance which manages to convey the fragility of a mother's loss with the intensity of a woman scorned. Likewise, John Malkovich delivers a solid performance as Rev. Gustav Briegleb , whose ferocious public support for Collins offers the audience an outlet for their anger and disbelief…and believe me by the middle of the film you're going to want to grab Gustav by the chops and plant upon him one hell of a smacker.
This is not to suggest that Changeling is all doom and gloom, indeed it celebrates our ability to continue to hope in the face of such adversity. As a result, the film can be seen as a fitting tribute to the unrelenting, resiliency of human spirit Collins embodied throughout her life.
Eastwood's direction throughout the film is impeccable, even the child actors manage to summon the performances of actors more than twice their age. Indeed, I'm still not convinced the child actors weren't the result of some clever CGI trickery. Visually the film excels; by shadowing the characters in a Hitchcockian world of neutral greens, blues and greys, Eastwood spectacularly extenuates Joile's doe eyes and superhuman red lips, resulting in a piece of striking cinematography which manages to shift in tone in time to the development of Collins remarkable pursuit of the truth.
Ultimately, Changeling is an emotional rollercoaster of a film, which isn't afraid to delve into the murky depths of the past to confront its moments of ludicrousness, in order for us to reclaim a sense of hope in a world which all too often seems hopeless.