Movie Review: Changeling

This film was quite good, if a bit slow and veering between its sequence of set pieces. In 1928, Christine Collins comes home from work to find her son missing. Five months later, the police find her son – only it’s the wrong kid, but she’s emotionally battered into taking the fake kid anyway, and then thrown into turmoil when she tries to get the police to start looking for her real son. Experts declare that the titular ‘Changeling’ is her real son, and that she can’t recognise him due to her emotional stress and trauma.

This triggers a series of interesting scenes – a 1920s asylum, a gritty, nightmarish farm, a court case, a prison confrontation – that Christine either moves through or is directly connected to. Changeling is slow and meandering and takes its time and by trying to cover all the angles, the ending feels long and drawn out. But still satisfying, if you don’t mind a bit of teary-eyed weepingness and melodrama. Otherwise you may be in for a bit of tooth-grinding. The journey is in following Christine’s emotional states, rathing than trying to obtain narrative satisfaction by seeing a standard investigation progress (in fact, events soon sweep the movie out of this investigation mode – it’s more about waiting around desperately for news about someone you love while knowing that you may never see them again.)

As a period piece, Changeling evokes 1928 in excellently. Everything is staged carefully and deliberately – to the point where the movie seems like a collection of post cards rather than a living, rough and ready evocation of 1928. (Could Christine really afford that nice house and collection of posh, designer clothes and immaculate hair on her salary? Jolie is dressed up like a woman from one of those fashion books you can still see around the net in places. She seems more of a model than a switchboard supervisor!) Still, one you accept the staging as one of the movie’s conventions, it’s a great feel for a particular place and time.

Cthulhu-gamers should see this, I reckon – it gives a good feel for the 1920s and there’s a mystery going on and even an asylum. Ristin will be pleased to note that Christine’s ally, a Christian radio show host, is portrayed in a dignified, compassionate and non-wankerish manner, pending whatever his position on gay rights might have been. 🙂

I’ll give it four out of five hatchets.

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