Thursday, February 12, 2009


"Changeling," Clint Eastwood's piece about the kidnapping of Walter Collins, overstays its welcome so much that its unforgivable. Cut the movie down to under two hours and you have a good film. But Eastwood, who's strong hand has gotten much, much weaker since 2006's masterful "Letters From Iwo Jima," drags the movie on and on and on. There's actually a good performance in here by Angelina Jolie, but it's tuned out mostly due to information being given again and again. We already know that the son has been kidnapped; we don't need to hear it several more time. Yet, that's what Eastwood gives us. The film goes from utterly devastating to extremely overbearing, and it makes two hours and twenty-one minutes seem like a lifetime. The first 45 minutes are actually pretty good: Christine Collins (Jolie) loses her son and the LAPD brings back a boy who looks eerily like him. He's not the kid, of course. Collins quickly determines this, but is harshly treated by the police force, who are a bunch of misogynists who put women in insane asylums just for sticking up for themselves. The treatment of Collins is no different. Even though the imposter is a police prop, and everyone knows it, Collins is thrown in the pen. At this point, the film loses control of itself and comes off as a low-grade mix of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and a police procedural. The writing, previously pretty good, turns really, really bad, the editing becomes more like tapioca, and the movie is, well, boring. I don't think the case itself is necessarily off-putting, but Eastwood's overlong representation of it is a disaster. It can't hold down your attention like it did before, since Harry threw in the kitchen sink and possibly even the dishwasher. The cinematography, once looking better than Sam Mendes' "Road to Perdition," dulls our eyes. And the addition of John Malkovich as a pastor who challenges the whole case is paltry. It's really sad to see such a promising film go down the way it does. But Eastwood makes the film go to its lowest of lows. It's his worst film that he's done in a while, possibly ever, and I believe he needs another year to make a comeback. He's trapped in murky waters, and he'll really need to dazzle us to get out of them. C-

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