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Changeling (2008)

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A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child.

Director:

Clint Eastwood
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Popularity
2,428 ( 249)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 50 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Angelina Jolie ... Christine Collins
Gattlin Griffith ... Walter Collins
Michelle Gunn ... Sandy
Jan Devereaux ... Operator
Erica Grant Erica Grant ... Operator
Antonia Bennett Antonia Bennett ... Operator
Kerri Randles ... Operator
Frank Wood ... Ben Harris
Morgan Eastwood ... Girl on Tricycle
Madison Hodges Madison Hodges ... Neighborhood Girl
John Malkovich ... Rev. Gustav Briegleb
Colm Feore ... Chief James E. Davis
Devon Conti Devon Conti ... Arthur Hutchins
Ric Sarabia ... Man at Diner
J.P. Bumstead J.P. Bumstead ... Cook
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Storyline

Los Angeles, 1928. A single mother returns from work to find her nine-year-old son gone. She calls the LAPD to initiate a search. Five months later, a boy is found in Illinois who fits the description; he says he's her son. To fanfare and photos, the LAPD reunite mother and son, but she insists he's not her boy. The cops dismiss her as either a liar or hysterical. When she joins a minister in his public criticism of the police, they in turn use government power to silence and intimidate her. Meanwhile, a cop goes to a dilapidated ranch to find a Canadian lad who's without legal status; the youth tells a grisly tale. There's redress for murder; is there redress for abuse of power? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

To find her son, she did what no one else dared.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violent and disturbing content, and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Universal [Germany]

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 October 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El sustituto See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$489,015, 26 October 2008

Gross USA:

$35,739,802

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$113,020,256
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color | Black and White (opening and end sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title refers to a European folk legend. Supposedly, fairies, elves, trolls, or even the devil would occasionally steal young children from their cradles, and leave a false child - a "changeling" - in its place. The changeling would grow sick and die, or exhibit bad behavior as it grew up, while the real child would supposedly become the slave of those who took it, and would never be seen again by its parents. The "changeling" legend was sometimes used to explain infant deaths or disorders such as mental retardation or autism in children. See more »

Goofs

A camera shadow is present three times in the bottom left hand corner of the screen in the wide shots of three detectives as they watch Sandford Clark dig. The first time it can be seen is in the shot where Detective Lester Ybarra says "Dig." to Sanford. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Christine Collins: Walter, honey. Time to wake up.
Walter Collins: Just ten more minutes...
Christine Collins: Sorry, sport. You can sleep in tomorrow, that's what Saturdays are for.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The black-and-white Universal logo used in the 1940s opens the film. See more »

Connections

Featured in 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A tale of two evils...
27 April 2009 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

Typical Eastwood fare here - serious subject, recent history period drama, bleak outlook with a touch of redemption for the leads at the end, this was nevertheless a powerful, engrossing expose of what passed for good policing in late 20's America.

Taking the film at face value, this was a convincing depiction of pre-Depression America, with some great details - the roller-skating supervising in the telephone company by Angeline Jolie's Caroline Collins character in particular was a neat period-defining touch, whilst good use is made of exterior locations, at psychopathic murderer Northcott's "chicken-coop" location, the train station where Jolie is "reunited" with her supposed son and the recreation of her suburban neighbourhood equally with the interiors at the grisly "psychiatric hospital" where Jolie is incarcerated, as well as the courtroom, police station and even the inside of Jolie's house. Atmosphere and realism are inset from the outset.

The story, almost unbelievable in its premise, but bolstered by the "based on a true story" legend over the opening titles (I'll research its claim later!) makes for tense and at times unbearable viewing as Jolie's Kafka-type nightmare almost fully envelops her and only comes into the light with the aid of an anti-corruption radio evangelist preacher and a cop who finally does his job right and actually listens to the crucial witness testimony of Northcott's unwilling teenage accomplice.

The film however suffers a bit from being overlong in places, symptomatic of Eastwood's typical slow-paced style and there appear to be three or four endings tagged on one after the other, each good enough in itself to close the film before the credits roll. I also didn't feel the dual-trial scenes worked together, Eastwood possibly posting the question about just who the bigger villains actually were here, the psychopathic killer who completely believes in Jolie or the back-covering inhumanity of the Chief of Police and his chief officer who think nothing of foisting an impostor on a traumatised mother and then unbelievably throw her into a ruthlessly run psychiatric hospital to hush her protests.

The acting is of a high standard. Early on, I did find Jolie a bit showy in her performance but she learns the less is more maxim as the film progresses, particularly as she descends into the bedlam of her psychiatric treatment where she witnesses and suffers almost inhuman cruelty and deprivation, before her release which sees her thence-forward display a telling stoic dignity in her pursuit of the truth. It's very much her film, although the support is strong in almost every other part too.

Eastwood is now very settled in his style and any viewer knows they're not going to be jolted out of their seat by anything put in their way. His skill is in story-telling and here again, with the aid of fine cinematography and an effective soundtrack of his own composition, he delivers a shocking story in a credible and persuasive way to keep you rooted, most of the time anyway, in your seat for its 160 minute duration.


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