Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood, is one of the most powerful movies I have seen. It is on one hand emotionally draining, and on the other, uplifting. It rips hope away just to have it restored once again, bigger and brighter than it was before. This movie will make you cringe and cry, feel angry and inspired.
The film takes place in 1928. and features Angelina Jolie, in an Oscar nominated role, as Christine Collins, a single mother trying to work and take care of her kid at the same time. After a late day at work she comes home to find that her 9-year-old son Walter is missing. The police are less than willing to take on Christine’s case, saying that she has to wait 24 hours to report her missing child, “it’s protocol.”
Soon a boy is returned to Christine, but not the right one. He’s three inches shorter, has different dental x-rays, and even a completely different demeanor. The cops insist that it is Walter and act agitated whenever Christine shows up protesting that the boy is not hers.
Police Captain Jones, Jeffery Donovan of Burn Notice, continues to belittle Christine. He tells her she’s not in her right state of mind, that she’s trying to get out of her responsibilities as a mother. Christine’s case is taken up by Rev. Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich). Rev. Gustav has made it his mission to bring to light the corruption that is happening within the LAPD.
While the movie starts out being about Christine trying to find her son by any means possible, it turns into something more. It is a true story of how the plight of one woman turned a city and its government around. It’s a story of how an individual can make a difference; an individual is powerful enough to stand up to anyone.
For those of you who don’t know the story the movie is based on, be prepared for the film to shift gears dramatically. There is an unforgettable scene involving a young boy and a police detective in an interrogation room that will be forever burned into my memory. As the young boy recounts the things he’s had to do, it’s hard to keep watching, but you can’t turn away. It’s mesmerizing and sickening.