Who would ever have thought that Clint Eastwood, once Hollywood’s drifter/cowboy/anti-hero par excellence, would also become one of America’s most celebrated directors? And yet his recent filmography – Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima – really says it all. He still appears to be improving with age though, since his latest effort, Changeling, is undoubtedly his best to date.
The (true) story centres on Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single-mother in 1920s Los Angeles who comes home from work one day to find her young son, Walter, has disappeared. Some months later the LAPD (seemingly mired in prohibition-era corruption) find a child and claim it is Collins’ son. It isn’t. But when Collins’ tries to tell the police that they turn against her, insisting she is mentally unstable and an unfit mother. But what happened to the real Walter? Can he be found before it is too late?
Changeling is flawless cinema, and it would be surprising if it did not feature heavily in 2009’s Oscars. Jolie is superb, and Eastwood’s classical style and mastery of tone and atmosphere makes Changeling reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s 1974 masterpiece Chinatown – high praise indeed. It may sound like mere melodrama, but the narrative shift that occurs part way through the film turns Changeling into something altogether darker and more disturbing. It’s still showing in cinemas, so be sure to catch it if you can. Watch the trailer here.