The Changeling (2008)

Dir. Clint Eastwood
Starring: Angelina Jolie

I’d give this a mild recommendation at best. Go if you’re desperate to see a film. It’s the type of movie that you’d watch on a Saturday with nothing better on or nothing better to do. Taken at face value, it has minimal entertainment value. There might be more beneath the surface–some interesting statements about power of the state perhaps and truth, but I’m not sure. I’m just trying to get this out, so you guys have some information about the film in case you’re considering watching this. Larri gave it 7.

The film is based on a true story about a woman (Angelina Jolie) whose son is missing. The story takes place in 1920s California. The police department actually find the boy, except the mother claims he’s not her son. The police believe that the mom is delusional and try to convince her that the boy is her son. This aspect of the story carries the film a long and keeps your attention, although the ending is a little anti-climatic.

If I had more time, I’d want to analyze the film’s point of view of state power–especially with regard to the truth. The police department wields consider power in shaping one’s reality. They bring in a psychiatrist to explain away the mother’s evidence that the boy is not her son (he’s shrunk three inches and is now circumcised). They use their power to lock her in an insane asylum. At some point, I got worried that she’d succumb to these pressures and begin to change her mind. There are some experiments conducted where opinions of others around you can change your opinions of reality–even when the reality is clear. You had that dynamic working here. I’m not sure if Eastwood wanted to say something about abuse of state power, too; and how we must be wary of it and the necessity of individuals to fight against it. The statements feel banal, but maybe I haven’t explored the film deeply enough.

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