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Changeling movie poster

Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Colm Feore, Jason Butler Harner, Amy Ryan, Michael Kelly
Released by: Universal Pictures

In Short: Clint Eastwood's masterful telling of an incredible true story from 1928 of child kidnapping, police corruption, and a mother's journey is sure to be a strong contender come Oscar time.
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Every Mother's Nightmare
Clint Eastwood's Wrenching True Story Is Oscar-Bound

As the heart-wrenching story unfolds in director Clint Eastwood's compelling new film Changeling, it is hard to grasp that the sad saga is actually a true story. But yet, it is. Taking place in Los Angeles from 1928 to 1935, this masterful movie unfolds a sickening real-life tale of child kidnapping, rampant police corruption, and the unfailing strength of a mother's love.

Angelina Jolie stars and gives an Oscar-worthy, nuanced performance as single mother Christine Collins, a telephone-company employee who is unexpectedly called into work on the weekend. She leaves her 9-year-old son Walter at home alone, and when she returns, he is gone.

Angelina Jolie in Changeling
Angelina Jolie and Jeffrey Donovan in Changeling

Walter's kidnapping sets off a chain of events that will strike fear into the hearts of every parent, as the LAPD police chief and his underlings eventually claim to have solved the kidnapping and return a child to Collins that is not her son. When she begins to insist that the boy is not hers, they actually throw her into the county mental institution rather than admit their mistake (which she has set about proving via enlisting her real son's doctors and teachers to agree that the boy is not the same child). That trip to the looney bin is just one part of this chilling look at how women were treated in American society less than a hundred years ago, as well as how much of an effort it took Collins to fight against that widespread disenfranchisement.

Much more unfolds before the incredible story of Changeling comes to an end, with twists and turns that may come off as really hard to believe. But screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski documented virtually every moment shown in the film, keeping so closely to the facts that the film begins with the strong statement, "A true story," not "based on a true story," which proves once again that truth is stranger than fiction.

And the real truth is, Changeling is one of Clint Eastwood's finest films, and a movie that will shake your emotions and engender your admiration.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

PKR091208 (Updated: 10/24/08 KR)

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