Sound: B Extras: C+ Film: B
The most underrated film of 2008 may easily be Clint
Eastwood’s Changeling (2008),
overshadowed by his other great 2008 film Gran
Torino, too easily dismissed by critics and totally missed by the public
who are going to be surprised how good it is when they finally catch up with
it. Overexposed by the tabloid media,
Angelina Jolie is nonetheless one of the best actresses of her generation,
especially when she gets material as smart and challenging as this is. She is so good here that this might be her
best performance yet in a film based on true events.
As single mother and senior telephone operator Christine
Collins, she leads a decent life, loves her only son Walter (Gatlin Griffith)
more than anything in the world and is determined to make his life the best she
can. Sometimes, work gets in the way,
but she does her best to make a secure home in Los Angeles where they live and
she is a really good mother. Then, that
is put to the ultimate test when he goes missing.
In what should have been a simple missing child case turns
into a fiasco when politics and outside interference make a bad situation a
nightmare and Christine is single-mindedly determined to find her son not
matter what it takes. On her side is a
preacher (John Malkovich) sick of the corruption in the city and knows it is
getting innocent people killed and terrorized.
He blames the police department, who cannot stand him either and
Christine is about to unwittingly find herself in the middle.
J. Michael Straczynski’s screenplay is breakthrough for
him, a longtime commercial writer who has shown consistency in more commercial
genre work over the years and does an exceptional job here pulling together the
facts, ideas, story and narrative in a most impressive way. This is one of the most well-rounded scripts
of the year and I am most impressed.
The cast is also top rate, with many unknowns and other
character actors you might know to see, if not by name like Colm Feore and
Michael Kelly, but it is Jolie who becomes this woman in a way that is nothing
short of a transformation. In Eastwood’s
hands in another peak of his exceptional directorial talents, Changeling may just turn out to be a
minor classic and more.
The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image looks
good throughout, but is just a little softer that the 35mm film print I saw,
yet it is a fine-looking film shot in real anamorphic Panavision by Tom Stern
and does have its share of digital work.
However, there is much that is not, from its costumes to its production
design making this one of the most authentic period pieces of recent
years. Even the make-up is exceptional.
The DTS HD Master Audio (MA) 5.1 lossless mix is also
decent, including one of Eastwood’s best scores, but the soundfield has as much
ambience in the surrounds as anything and the mix leans towards dialogue. However, it also seems that Eastwood has
decided to properly portray the time as quieter than today and that too is
smart. Extras include Blu-ray exclusive
BD Live functions that add items about the film you cannot access otherwise, an
extensive stills section, picture in picture and Los Angeles: Then & Now in the U-Control section, plus the
outright featurette extras Partners In
Crime: Clint Eastwood & Angelina Jolie and The Common Thread: Angelina Jolie Becomes Christine Collins.
- Nicholas Sheffo