Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
|Featuring:||Angelina Jolie, Gattlin Griffith, Michelle Gunn, Jan Devereaux, Erica Grant, Antonia Bennett, Kerri Randles, Frank Wood, Morgan Eastwood, Madison Hodges, John Malkovich, Amy Ryan, Colm Feore, Devon Conti, Ric Sarabia, J.P. Bumstead, Jeffrey Donovan, [more]|
|Producer:||Imagine Entertainment, Malpaso Productions, Relativity Media, Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Geyer Kosinski, Robert Lorenz, Tim Moore, Jim Whitaker|
“A true story—to find her son, she did what no one else dared.”
Based on true events, “Changeling” shows what one mother endured in search for her son amidst a corrupt police department. Angelina Jolie leaves her past violent, sexual roles at the door, as she expertly plays Christina Collins, the mother of the missing child.
In March 1928, Christina Collins (Angelina Jolie) was a single mother working long hours in a telephone company. Her true joy in life was her nine-year-old son Walter. After having to fill in for a sick employee on a Sunday morning, Christina makes her son lunch and promises she’ll return before dark. Keeping her word, she returns to find the lunch untouched and Walter mysteriously gone.
For five months, Christina regularly calls the police and different children’s centers to no avail. One day her dreams come true, when the police confirm that they have indeed found her son. Rushing to the train center, Christina looks in horror as a strange boy is said to be her son. The detective convinces her that she is in shock and that the boy’s trauma has altered his appearance. Christina reluctantly agrees to give it some time.
With each passing day, Christina is more convinced that the boy is not her son, when she sees physical differences and confirmation from Walter’s teacher and dentist. Not wanting to become exposed, the corrupt police department keeps denying Christina’s credibility and eventually throws her into a psychiatric hospital. The town’s most violent serial murders are also uncovered and potentially serve as a connection to the missing Walter.
The acting in the film is phenomenal. Angelina Jolie successfully brings believability to Christina Collins. At a time when women were viewed as inferior, Jolie brings targeted vulnerability with her silent tears and perfectly acted scenes.
Clint Eastwood once again succeeds in creating another strong movie to add to his string of successes. The film’s biggest weakness is its long running time. After the film’s climax, the film continues for another hour. Eastwood helps the hour go by easier by skillfully pacing the remaining scenes. However, most suspense goes away after the finding of the serial killer.
Surprisingly, “Changeling” is a very mild ‘R’ film. I have seen far worse in PG-13. There were only about 15 uses of profanity, including 3 GDs and 3 ‘f’ words. While in the asylum, Christina tells the corrupt doctor “f__k you and the horse you rode in on.”
When Christina was getting checked into the asylum, she is hosed down and is obviously nude. The entire time she covers her breasts with her hands. In one brief scene, one could faintly see her derriere through the steam. A nurse then spreads Christina’s legs while she examines her privates. The actual examination is not shown, but the camera does linger on Jolie’s face as she suffers through the procedure. I did not find the hosing scene offensive, but historically accurate. I believe Clintwood did a tasteful job in truly demonstrating the humiliation and unethical treatment many mental patients had to endure during the 1920s.
The violence is what perhaps pushed the movie over to an ‘R’ rating. Some men are shown being shot. No blood is shown; they only collapse. The film deals with a child serial killer, and the thought of a child being murdered is very disturbing. While no child is shown actually being axed, Eastwood inserts flashbacks where the killer was bloody, swinging an axe. In the end, the killer is shown to be hung.
The aforementioned offenses were not the most disturbing; the entire plot about police corruption and what Christina Collins had to endure is what makes the film dark. At a time when women faced opposition, Christina had to suffer through mental torture, knowing that the boy delivered to her was not her son. Against all odds, she never gave up hope and suffered for her belief. She had an unwavering hope that other’s believed to be foolish and worthless.
Christians are commanded to forgive people who seek forgiveness. While the concept is good, it is extremely easy to become fed up with people’s repeated, unchanging misconducts. After a few wrongs, we might look at those people and give up all hope, believing them to already be doomed. At those times, we should grateful for God’s everlasting patience and grace. How many times have we messed up and believed that God surely could not forgive us now?
When we truly lose ourselves and want to return to God’s embrace, we should remember the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. After hastily spending all of his inheritance, the selfish son became poor and realized how he sinned against his father. Rather than starving, he decided to swallow his pride and go back to his father. From a distance, the father saw his son returning, and joyfully ran to his son and “threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The father quickly set up a massive feast, celebrating the fact that his son once “was lost and [now] is found.”
God is that forgiving father and always wants us to return to Him. If you have done something wrong and do not believe that the Lord can forgive you, know that He will. If you truly seek forgiveness and want to return to Him, He will gladly accept you back.
After being disappointed about Jolie’s role in “Wanted,” this film was a refreshing reminder of her extraordinary acting talent. She is what carried the film throughout. If you are curious about this movie, it is one of the cleaner ones to come out. However, one should note the emotional heaviness of the film. It is not a movie that young children should see; the hanging and the hosing scene were troubling. Secondly, the ending remains accurate to the true-life story, so viewers will not leave with a happy-go-lucky feeling when exiting the theatre.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.