Changeling (2008)

Based on a true story, the 2008 dramatic movie, Changeling, is a very sad, poignant film about a mother whose world is literally turned upside down when not only does her son disappear, but to make matters worse, the boy who the LAPD does find who they think is her son, is in fact, not her son.  Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stars Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins & it takes place in Los Angeles, during a time span from the late 1920’s to the mid 1930’s.

Christine Collins is a single mother who works for the phone company.  One day, when she is at home, she gets called to come into work.  At first, she is hesitant because she was going to take her son to the movies, but reluctantly agrees.  When she comes home later that day, her son, Walter, is missing.  She files a report with the police & they have good news for her, they tell her that they found her “son”.  However, when he gets off the train, she immediately has her doubts.  Nonetheless, she takes him home anyway.  She tries telling the Captain, J.J. Jones, but he doesn’t believe her.  He thinks it’s all in her mind because of separation anxiety.  In fact, he has her committed to a psychiatric ward because he thinks that she’s out of her mind.  She is finally able to get out with help from Reverend Gustav Brieglab. The Reverend has documents, which help to get Christine out of the ward.  Once she is released, she continues to look for her son and even tells the tabloid press that kid is not her son & that she is looking for her “real” son.  Years later, she finally gets a tip about her son.  Sanford confesses to the police that he killed a bunch of kids & tells them that Walter may be dead.  He tells him about Gordon Northcott, who killed a lot of kids.  Christine decides to take matters into her own hands by suing the police & taking them to court.  They find the Captain that found her “son” incompetent & remove him from his position.  Gordon Northcott is found guilty.  He is sentenced to death by hanging.

One aspect of the filmmaking I liked was the acting.  I felt that Angelina Jolie did a phenomenal job portraying the Christine Collins character.  It was definitely an Academy Award performance which she was nominated for, which I believe she should have won.  Even after the LAPD finds her son, who turns out to be the wrong boy, she never does give up hope.  I also liked the Gordon Northcott character, as he looked like he could have been related to Norman Bates in Psycho.  Finally, I liked how she had the courage to fight the LAPD on the basis of police corruption.

The other aspect of the filmmaking which I thought was simply remarkable was the set design.  I must admit that Clint Eastwood did an outstanding job in making Los Angeles look like the 1920’s.  For the film, they used several vintage cars as well as replica streetcars in order to give off the impression that this was during the 1920’s.  It was like looking at a vintage film as Clint Eastwood transformed 2008 to 1920.

My overall reaction to this film was that I really enjoyed it.  Although the ending is kind of ambiguous as we don’t know whether or not Walter Collins made it out of the ranch alive.  Excellent movie, phenomenal directing, acting, & set design.

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