Changeling (2008)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Michael Kelly, Jason Butler Harner, Geoffrey Pierson

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

Angelina Jolie is confronted by the changeling

On 10th March 1928, hard working single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) returned from a shift at the telephone exchange to find her nine-year-old son Walter missing. Five months later, the LAPD find and return him to her. Except that the boy they hand over is no her son, and nothing she can say (including the fact that he's four inches shorter, circumcised and has different dental records) will convince tight-lipped careerist Captain  JJ Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) that his department's made a mistake.

And when Christine, insisting that her son is still missing, takes her story to the press, she's abruptly silence when Captain Jones throws her into a mental asylum to rot, alongside the other inconvenient women the police force can't quite bring themselves to shoot.

Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins in The Changeling

Fortunately for Christine, although she may be up against powerful men, she has powerful men on her side too, in the formidable persons of Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich) and crack lawyer SS Hahn (Geoffrey Pierson), and her frail, tearful demeanour hides a steely determination to fight for justice. But as she takes her battle to the top, the on good cop on the force is uncovering a tale of murder and brutality that makes the corruption and deception that have gone before seem positively pleasant…

Now, if this is starting to sound to you like a novel from the pen of James Ellroy, Sarah Waters or even Charles Dickens, think again. This incredible tale of police corruption, mass murder and incredible bravery is, almost unbelievably, a true story.

And at its heart is Angelina Jolie's poignant, desperately convincing portrayal of Christine. Like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, she manages to transcend the paparazzi-fuelled three-ring circus that is her off-screen life to breathe real, emotional credibility into the character.

Part gothic melodrama, part LA Confidential-style cop thriller, part Capote-esque true crime tale, Changeling is a long film, a shocking, traumatic film and an emotionally exhausting film. It's also a brilliant film, justly celebrating the life of an ordinary woman or indomitable spirit who never ceased to hope.

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