Did you kill my son?”
“That’s not my child!!”
“What did you do to my boy??”
Sound like a fun way to pass two laborious hours? Then step right up and see “Changeling,” Clint Eastwood’s mopey melodrama that bungles an amazing true story.
Angelina Jolie stars as Christine Collins, a single mother raising an adorable 9-year-old son in 1920s Los Angeles. One day her work duties keep her away from home longer than expected, and when she returns her child is missing.
Months pass, and she finally gets a call from the police telling her they found her son. He’s alive, well and ready to reunite with his momma.
Only it’s not him.
What follows is based on a remarkable true story that touches on police corruption and an early feminist’s cry to be heard.
It’s fodder for one helluva movie, but Eastwood’s version doesn’t come close to greatness – unless you’re talking about the impeccable period detail and lush camera work. The film’s dramatic tension evaporates by the halfway mark, leaving us with a soggy storyline with few surprises and little reason to pay attention.
The good versus evil narrative is so stark, and so uncomplicated, that rooting for our heroine becomes all too easy. The film’s attempt at courtroom drama plays out like an episode of “The People’s Court” where a drunk, jobless layabout squares off against a prim, proper citizen. The outcome is never in doubt.
It’s generally poort sport to mock an actor’s appearance, even though many film critics do just that.
I’ll make an exception here.
Jolie is emaciated in the title role, and her gaunt appearance is a constant distraction. She still turns in a fine performance for about an hour, but after than her role is reduced to a series of stark exclamations better suited to a Lifetime original movie.
What a waste.
The same holds true for “Changeling,” a film which reeks of Oscar potential but would be better labeled as Razzie bait.
(Photo: Angelina Jolie stars as a single mother who loses her child in “Changeling.”)