Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Michael J. Staczynski
Starring Angelina Jolie, John Malcovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Amy Ryan.
I can't bring myself to write a full review for Eastwood's Changeling, so instead I'll offer 10 Things That I Could Take Away From It (always trying to be on the positive 'glass half full' side):
1. Ms Jolie is eerily skinny. That said, her superwoman tabloid persona ("Just order another kid from Africa Angie!" I kept saying) OR conversely her on-screen blockbuster persona ("Where are your guns Ms Collins? Guns, not plates, sweetie! They are better weapons!") kept haunting her performance for me. Is it a good performance? Probably, but it felt too coerced for my taste, with gestures and explosions overpowering the emotion and affection she could have brought to the part.
2. This is from the creator/writer of Babylon 5? I wish that would explain why it was so long, slow and unaffecting...
3. Amy Ryan is a gifted thesp. Seriously, how else do you work wonders at The Office AND play a non-insane mental institution patient in one year?
4. Tom Stern and Clint Eastwood looove half-lighting their actors. [For other examples see Million Dollar Baby and Letter from Iwo Jima] To what purpose? I have no idea...
5. Jeffrey Donovan is kind of hot. That doesn't take away from his mediocre acting talent as showcased here ("Look audience, I'm trying this accent on for size? Do you think it's working" Sorry Jeff, it's not).
6. Clint's under-directing (or 'minimalist directing') does a disservice to his child actors. Sure, Angie, John and Amy can work with few cuts and few directing notes, but Walter, fake-Walter and Sanford look so much like 'child actors' in a play that I don't buy them crying or feeling remorse, or anything really.
7. The costumes were inspired. I could have done with less of those hats Angie kept wearing - mainly because they worked as a prop to signify 'Look audience, I am submissive, see how I look down and you can't even see my eyes?'
8. The mental asylum offers the best part of the film. But maybe that's cause it so unabashedly reads as a Foucauldian textbook: 'normalcy' is a discourse.
9. I should watch It Happened One Night. Funny how watching a movie just makes you watch another one right? It's also been waiting on my hard drive for a while to be watched and Ms Collins' endorsement just reminded of it.
10. "I want MY SON BACK" - Can't get over that line, I'm sorry.
Letter Grade: C+