Written by Films

Changeling

J. Michael Straczynski is someone best known to me as the creator and driving force behind Babylon 5, a series that was almost certainly ahead of its time.
Now comes Changeling, a superb new film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie. Straczynski dug up the story – infamous at the time – based around a mother who’s son disappears. The police, in the shape of Jeffrey Donovan’s Captain Jones, return a different boy, and then try to shut up Jolie’s Christine Collins when she complains.
Then there’s the powerful Rev. Briegleb played by John Malkovich, who is pretty much her supporter. But he has a radio station to continually berate the corrupt Los Angeles Police Department.
There are more elements to the story, but I won’t mention them here as the really spoil it.
Eastwood does a fine job directing it in his usual manner, and the 30s period is depicted in a way that never detracts from the story. But it’s lovely to see the operator manager using rollerskates to move swiftly around the office. Eastwood also composed the music.
A lot has been made of the lack of jokes and seriousness of the film, but I don’t think that’s fair. So it’s not always especially pleasant, but it’s always watchable and the incredible story just keeps you going as you want to discover what happens.
A fine cast fills out all the minor roles, but again I don’t want to highlight anyone in case I give away plot details. The film certainly headed off in a direction I seriously wasn’t expecting although I’m not familiar with the history of that part of California in that period.
I know a lot of people find Angelina Jolie annoying, but just when you begin to think she is, up she pops with something like this to make you forget.
Eastwood, it seems, pretty much used the script as it came without changes, and his next film, hot on the heels of this – Gran Torino – also uses the script as it came to Eastwood. Unchanged. The guy’s got class.