Changeling

February 19, 2009 at 7:16 pm (Movies and TV)

When I underwent sales training as a telemarketer some 21 years ago, they did an exercise to show it’s not what you say, but how you say it. They’d say a sentence with 7 words in it, each time emphasizing a different word, so that the meaning changed. Changeling is like repeating that exercise for two hours with Angelina Jolie using the sentence, “I want my son back.”

I have nothing but respect for Clint Eastwood, but felt that Changeling was not even close to efforts such as Unforgiven, or Flags Of Our Fathers. Eastwood’s simple scores are always lovely, and I have come to look forward to humming them around the house for days after I’ve seen one of his movies. Eastwood, in this film, is understated and makes just as much use of what we don’t see.

I’m beginning to think that Angelina Jolie’s agent has been given the directive to only pass along scripts that require gun-toting, mental wards, and fits of hysteria. Perhaps this is unfair, but the fashion of the early 30’s called for red lipstick, and seeing Jolie’s oversized aperture in bright red lipstick was distracting, regardless of what else was happening onscreen. The story is a heartbreaking one, and I can barely believe it’s a true one. That’s sad in many ways.

John Malkovich is woefully underutilized. When you have an actor who’s that intrinsically creepy, why not make the most of it? I was thoroughly shocked to realize that the frazzled mental hospital hooker and Michael Scott’s girlfriend on The Office are the same person. I was even more shocked to realize that she is in a later scene, involving the identification of Arthur Hutchins…I had to go back and rewind to check…because her presence in that scene has massive implications about her character and the LAPD.

I can’t say this was a bad movie, though I can’t necessarily recommend it, either. Any film which encourages us to dig deeper and ask uncomfortable questions can’t be all bad. Nor can one which inspires people to fight for justice in many forms.

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