Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich
The Buzz: Nominated in Best Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction categories
The Run: Won Satellite Award for Best Actress
Schizophrenia Of The Script
Clint Eastwood should have promoted Gran Torino at the Cannes instead of making so much fuss over Changeling. The Oscar probably wouldn’t have snubbed one of the better films of the year if he had done that. Perhaps he was too confident of Gran Torino. Whatever the case, Changeling definitely isn’t a glowing bullet point in Eastwood’s glorious and pretty consistent filmography.
Changeling follows one woman’s struggle to get back her lost child. No, wait. It follows a genocide case loosely based on real life incidents. No, no, no. It is a gut-wrenching courtroom drama that raises questions about the capital punishment. Whatever. Clint Eastwood is one of the best storytellers Hollywood has and it is appalling to see him failing in his first step. Eastwood’s films have always been backed by strong scripts and great performances, only faltering slightly at a directorial level. But in Changeling, he takes up a script that takes a pretty good idea, blows it up and zooms it to fantastical proportions. Not only that, when it goes it uncontrollable limits, it snaps. There is a start change in tone and plot. It is as if the film just rebooted for the better. And just when it seems like it can redeem itself, the courtroom drama comes up to give the final set of blows to the film. As a result, whatever Eastwood is able to do (no, I don’t mean the Cannes promotion!) isn’t enough to even make the film linger for a while.
Angelina Jolie’s performance is inconsistent and is perhaps the weakest contender for the Oscar this year. Perhaps Ms. Zelwegger could have done the role better. Jolie shuttles between aggression and sympathy unconvincingly. Something like a mixture of Wanted and Alexander. Having said that, I must also tell you that the period details are well captured. But then, isn’t all this usual to Hollywood?