Clint Eastwood is a living legend. He's a terrific actor who has given us one of the most iconic characters in film history with Dirty Harry, he's a marvelous director, and on top of that, he even composes the music to some of his films. If there is one person in Hollywood who deserves recognition, it's Clint Eastwood. Unfortunately, his latest film, Changeling, (not to be confused with the 1980 haunted house film) fails to reach the standard he set for himself. After Letters from Iwo Jima, Flags of Our Fathers, and Million Dollar Baby, all masterpieces in their own right, the bar was set high, but numerous missteps prevent Changeling from surpassing mediocrity.
The film is based on a true story set in the late 1920's and Angelina Jolie stars as Christine Collins. After returning home from work one night, she finds her son is missing. After a search, the police claim to have found him. The problem is that little boy isn't her son. She will do anything to get him back, even if nobody else believes her.
Here's the main problem with the film. It's way too melodramatic. I understand the heaviness of the situation, but a lot of the drama should have been downplayed. It got a bit excessive, even to the point where it was almost a self parody. Look at Angelina Jolie for instance. Although she is a terrific actress in her own right, she felt off here. The film is about two hours and 20 minutes and I would estimate that she cries for about two hours of it. It seemed like every other scene she was breaking down in tears for one reason or another and I began to get annoyed. If the minds behind spoof films like Disaster Movie and Date Movie ever make a Dramatic Movie, I could easily see them making fun of the excessive crying in Changeling.
Much like the rest of the film, the acting is uneven. The quality of the performances seemed to change from scene to scene. Sometimes they were good, sometimes they were bad, and sometimes they were over the top. I could never fully immerse myself in the undeniably emotional story because the actors never pulled me in like they should have.
One thing I rarely notice when I'm watching a movie is the musical score. The purpose of a score is to heighten the experience and make the emotions present in a particular scene even more effective. Well, this musical score doesn't do that. In fact, it detracts from the experience. There is one song in particular that is played over and over and over again. From the beginning of the picture to the end, a slow melodic piano tune played at various parts in the story and it drove me crazy. If you begin to notice the musical score to a greater extent than usual, then it has failed. That was the case here.
I was split on this movie for the most part. At times, I was completely captivated at what I was seeing, but other times I was bored out of my mind and unconvinced of the film's authenticity. It just lacked that special something that other great dramas have. Still, it succeeds because, as uneven as it is, Clint Eastwood brings his usual stylish direction and the story will have some kind of emotional impact on you. It's no game changer, but Changeling has just enough to recommend despite some major blunders along the way.
Changeling receives 2.5/5