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Starring: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Colm Feore, Michael Kelly, Jeffrey Donovan

Director: Clint Eastwood

Screenplay: J. Michael Straczynski

Cinematography: Tom Stern

Original Score: Clint Eastwood

Running Time: 141 Mins.

Clint Eastwood has become a masterful director throughout his career, yes he went through a bit of a weak patch (Space Cowboys anyone!) but has come into the later half of the noughties demonstrating a werve and spark in his direction that very few of his peers have and many seem to have lots with age, if anything Clint’s direction is getting better and better with age. Making you wonder what his peak will be, just when you thought it was Unforgiven he comes up with the suckerpunch of Mystic River followed by the amazing Million Dollar Baby, amazing in both his masterful direction and the acting he coaxes from all involved, but more on that later. 

With Changeling I expected a quality who-dunnit  but no more, certainly not anything this exhaustively emotional (in the best possible way). Expectations can very often effect initial opinion having watched a film, for example the latest  Indiana Jones was a disappointment, largely down to the fact expectations were so high, So common sense would suggest that if you aren’t expecting much from a film it could well seem alot better than it may stnad up to be on repeat viewings. With this in mind I have now seen Changeling multiple times, hence the delay in my review. So does my opinion remain the same, is Changeling a masterpiece? Is it one of my favourite films EVER, as I left the cinema feeling the first time? Well…

Yes and no, because much like any number of films where there are twists and you have the rug pulled from under you, the effect is lessened upon repeat viewings. This is not to say that it was worse for it, simply less of an emotional experience, albeit only slightly. So the constants, Eastwood at the helm drives the quality, he truly is a master storyteller taking what is on the surface a simple story, to the darkest places of the human psyche and back again, finding hope where you once thought there was none. Sounds heavy and difficult viewing, well it really isn’t and the closest filmis experience I can think to compare it too is The Shawshank Redemption.

The highest of praise indeed, the acting is impeccable all rounda and much has been made of Jolie’s performance, quite rightly, but the supporting ccast of largely unknown character actors are equally as good, with Michael Kelly and Jeffrey Donovan as standouts as two sides of the corrupt LAPD. Eastwood really does have a knack of coaxing deeply affecting performances from his meticulously chosen actors, is there nothing this guy can’t do!

To say too much about the plot would be to spoil its impact, but suffice to say it delves deeply in to police corruption in much less cartoonish way than say, L. A . Confidential did (and that in itself was fantastic!).  The only drawback is the slightly episodic nature of the plot, the problem is if it wasn’t episodic there would be no other way to cover all the bases it does, just think Gone Baby Gone, by way of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest with a smattering of The Green Mile. But all these comparisons do the film a disservice, see it for its own merits because even if it’s not one of THE best films ever, it’s certainly up their with the best of the year, I’d certainly keep an eye out Ffor Clint at next year Academy Awards…and quite rightly so!

VERDICT

At 78 Eastwood’s skills behind the camera just seem to get increasingly better, deep but not heavy, emotional but not cheesy and sublimely told storytelling that takes you to places you never expect, and then theres Jolie…Heck just go and see it, once, twice, thrice, it’s THAT good. 

grade-a

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