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Changeling (2008)

R  |   |  Drama, History, Mystery  |  31 October 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 189,227 users   Metascore: 63/100
Reviews: 380 user | 258 critic | 38 from

A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it stubbornly tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child, while also refusing to give up hope that she will find him one day.


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Title: Changeling (2008)

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 44 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Antonia Bennett ...
Ben Harris
Girl on Tricycle
Madison Hodges ...
Neighborhood Girl
Devon Conti ...
Man at Diner


Los Angeles, 1928. A single mother returns from work to find her nine-year-old son gone. She calls the LAPD to initiate a search. Five months later, a boy is found in Illinois who fits the description; he says he's her son. To fanfare and photos, the LAPD reunite mother and son, but she insists he's not her boy. The cops dismiss her as either a liar or hysterical. When she joins a minister in his public criticism of the police, they in turn use government power to silence and intimidate her. Meanwhile, a cop goes to a dilapidated ranch to find a Canadian lad who's without legal status; the youth tells a grisly tale. There's redress for murder; is there redress for abuse of power? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boy | police | lapd | telephone | train | See All (287) »


To find her son, she did what no one else dared.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violent and disturbing content, and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

31 October 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El sustituto  »

Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$489,015 (USA) (24 October 2008)


£4,693,773 (UK) (2 January 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


| (opening and end sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The New York premiere of the movie was Angelina Jolie's first public appearance after she gave birth to her twins Vivienne Jolie-Pitt and Knox. See more »


First when Christine is thrown in her cell, the hatch behind the barred window is shut with force. Later, when we see Christine watching Carol being brought back to her cell, we can see that the cell doors don't have hatches at all. See more »


[first lines]
Christine Collins: Walter, honey. Time to wake up.
Walter Collins: Just ten more minutes...
Christine Collins: Sorry, sport. You can sleep in tomorrow, that's what Saturdays are for.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The black-and-white Universal logo used in the 1940s opens the film. See more »


References The Mysterious Airman (1928) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Grueling and scary search for truth.
2 November 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Changeling - In 1928, Single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) returns home one day to discover her nine-year-old son, Walter, is missing. She calls the police and, after enduring a grueling 24 hours, they search for her son. But the boy they return to her is not her son. After confronting corrupt city authorities, Collins is vilified as an unfit mother and sent to an asylum.

This is a grueling film to watch. I have not felt this hideous since North Country, a film which also dealt with misogyny within the power structure. Women are treated as fragile, emotional, and not believable. This film tackles corruption to boot, as the LAPD is accused of being a gang of thugs that answer to no one. Eastwood is old school with the violence, understanding that the mind can fill in the very brutal gaps.

Angelina Jolie delivers another great performance. But unlike A Mighty Heart, this film actually deserves her presence. I don't think she really should have so much press coverage, but there is definitely reason for her acclaim as an actress. The situation her character goes through is so surreal and the film captures it perfectly. It gives you chills from the second Christine is given this pretender to raise and rarely lets up. And if for one moment you tell yourself "It's just a movie" as I tried to, this s*** actually happened. Characters were composited or changed, a disclaimer at the end states, but the events were the same.

An odd praise goes out to Jason Butler Harner, who plays Gordon Northcott, a kidnapper and murderer of many children. He has played one of the monsters of everyone's nightmares to perfection. Also of note is Jeffrey Donovan for his portrayal of J. J. Jones, corruption personified. Jones is a man able to whisk people away to asylums with no need of warrants. Scary indeed.

Changeling shares a theme with several of Clint Eastwood's other films. Unforgiven and Flags of Our Fathers come most readily to mind. His lesson concerns truth and lies, and exposing the hypocrisy of falsehoods for want of the truth. The truth is rarely pretty, but generally preferable to lies, and will often come to surface, if given enough time. I doubt I will watch this struggle for truth for a long time to come (it's not one for casual viewing), but it's a very good film.


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Recent Posts
Axe scene....a step to far? sarahparsons334
Why is it called changeling? charlimcbean
There is nothing reasonable or credible in this film. danieligarza
The Music is Crap hermanowen-1
One missing thing that would have cleared things up david-seerup
The boy saying the police told him to say he was Walter zackayotte
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