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Changeling (2008)

A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child.

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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 »

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Details

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Release Date:

31 October 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El sustituto  »

Box Office

Budget:

$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,351,560 (USA) (2 November 2008)

Gross:

$35,739,802 (USA)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

J. Michael Straczynski first learned of the story of Christine Collins from an unnamed source at Los Angeles City Hall. The source had stumbled across case files regarding the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders among other discarded documents scheduled for destruction. Straczynski took the files himself and became obsessed with the case, doing extensive research over the course of a year. He tried to make it into a television project, but never found a solid way to do that. Virtually every event depicted in the film appears as cited in legal documents, with dialogue often taken verbatim from court transcripts. Straczynski wrote his first draft of the screenplay in only eleven days. See more »

Goofs

Jeffrey Donovan's left ear is pierced, which was not acceptable for a police officer anywhere in 1928. See more »

Quotes

[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.
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

References The Thin Man (1934) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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.

A-


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