I was drawn in instantly. The Los Angeles of 1928 appeared on the screen and marked this film as something to remember. The grayscale opening to an L.A. suburb with the old-time black corners of the screen that neutralized peripheral vision tightened all my focus to the picture.
Changeling brings the life of Christine Collins to a new national audience after 80 years. Changeling, depicting the true story of Christine Collins and her son Walter, brandishes the ferocious power of a woman. The film showcases her challenges for just causes and her unending hope.
Collins, a young single mother, comes home to an empty house. Shocked that she cannot find her son Walter after patrolling the neighborhood, she opens an official investigation with the Los Angeles Police Department. After months of worrying, Collins is taken to the train station where the L.A.P.D. presents her with a boy claiming to be Walter. Unsure of this child and without strong self-confidence, she is convinced to take the boy home.
However, Collins returns to the police several times where she receives impossible explanations and has her character harassed. At the whim of the police captain, she is secretly shipped off to the psychiatric ward to separate her from the press. Collins endures these hardships and eventually confronts the merciless authority of the L.A.P.D. while the police force stumbles on to what really happened to Walter.
One of the best qualities is the firmness and grit the film inherits from its real life counterpart. J. Michael Straczynski masterfully reproduced the spotlighted events of the Christine Collins tragedy from historical records. Although the script makes the film a slightly longer two and one half hours, the work should be commended for not wasting a moment of the viewer’s time with needless exposition.
The script accounts for the film’s theatrical presentation at times, letting the suspense build and the plot unfold visually. The film is a perfect arrangement where sensation and melody transition perfectly into the marvelous work of Clint Eastwood.
The camera work of this production was fantastic. I never felt for a moment that the camera missed the subject of the scene. To a slight degree I was disappointed that the film was so clear-pictured. Indulged by the antique style of the film’s introduction, I felt it should have had a lower quality grit to enhance the style. The tone just seemed too bright in inappropriate moments. However, I was greatly impressed by the accentuation of Collins’ ruby red lipstick. The contrast to her pale face was reminiscent of a woman’s feministic qualities being shown in contrast to strong independence as in film noir.
The cast was a perfect set, led by Angelina Jolie (Christine Collins), John Malkovich (Pastor Gustav Briegleb) and Jeffrey Donovan (Captain J.J. Jones). Jolie, as the protagonist of the film, plays Collins with such aptitude. The audience’s natural reaction is to believe in the dire fortitude of this woman and her courage to fight. The acting of the other members of the cast is quite convincing as well. Malkovich grasped his character’s struggle with the police’s over-stepping their given authority.
Jeffrey Donovan was quite impressive. Donovan’s performance was on key with the authoritarian Captain J. J. Jones bringing this fiery man’s ideals to light. Even with this spectacular acting I felt the captain was painted a bit more villainous in contrast to what he may have been in the real incident.
This movie will wrap you in suspense and drama to capture your imagination and in a tragic story to capture your heart. A grand film that has a bright future of award nominations and stirring performances, Changeling will show the spirit and heart of a mother’s nature to love unconditionally.