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Changeling (2008)

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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.

Director:

Clint Eastwood
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Popularity
2,831 ( 180)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 48 nominations. See more awards »

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Based on writer Susanna Kaysen's account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the 1960s.

Director: James Mangold
Stars: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Angelina Jolie ... Christine Collins
Gattlin Griffith ... Walter Collins
Michelle Gunn ... Sandy
Jan Devereaux ... Operator
Erica Grant Erica Grant ... Operator
Antonia Bennett Antonia Bennett ... Operator
Kerri Randles ... Operator
Frank Wood ... Ben Harris
Morgan Eastwood ... Girl on Tricycle
Madison Hodges Madison Hodges ... Neighborhood Girl
John Malkovich ... Rev. Gustav Briegleb
Colm Feore ... Chief James E. Davis
Devon Conti Devon Conti ... Arthur Hutchins
Ric Sarabia ... Man at Diner
J.P. Bumstead J.P. Bumstead ... Cook
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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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 October 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El sustituto See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$489,015, 26 October 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$35,739,802

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$113,020,256
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color | Black and White (opening and end sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

When "Walter" and his mother pose for the news picture outside the train, the policewoman who escorted "Walter" is standing directly behind them and would have appeared in the background of the picture. At the trial, the picture shows mother and "son" but the policewoman is nowhere in the shot. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Episode #6.1 (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

An interesting story told well.
28 October 2008 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

Christine Collins: "The boy they brought back is not my son."

ClintEastwood s knows a good story, and he knows how to tell it on film. Not everything he does is as powerful as his depiction of a dynamic female boxer in Million Dollar Baby, for which Hilary Swank won a best actress Oscar among four for the film. In Changeling he presents another strong woman, Christine Collins, played by the notable Angelina Jolie. Because she is directed to weep at almost every turn and regularly underplay her grit, Jolie won't win accolades, nor will Eastwood rack up the nominations as he frequently does in Oscar season. But his adaptation of the historic Wineville Chicken Murders chills with his perceptions about the capriciousness of crime and the determination of those who choose to fight it.

In a Prohibition-era 1928, Collins gets word that the Los Angeles Police Department is returning her kidnapped eight-year old son. When she sees him at the station, a finely directed sequence showing the forces of motherhood and politics clash, she knows it is not her child. LAPD, needing the good publicity, forces her to take the boy overnight with the logic that she is merely in shock. The rest of this overly long thriller carefully traces the discoveries leading to resolutions and disappointments. Along the way, police corruption is exposed, mental institution incarceration of women is laid bare, and grisly serial murdering is slowly detailed.

Yet in this discursive narrative, Eastwood indulges himself beyond Jolie's annoying crying by gratuitously laboring over the details of an execution. The stark San Quentin setting is ghastly and the villain worthy except for the film's obvious criticism of false mental institution lockup, ironic here because this murderer is clearly deranged enough to be determined unfit for trial.

As in every Eastwood production, the values are first-rate, in this case period costuming and vehicles (those Model T's and trolley cars are beautiful). As in Mystic River, Eastwood knows how to splice family and community together in the struggle against organized crime, from street violence to public service malpractice. The activist preacher Reverend Briegleb (John Malkovich) helps bring the worlds together in his radio broadcasts, Malkovich for once playing good well. Eastwood continues to be the director of choice for depicting crimes and heartaches that strike the common citizen at will.

We all should be as productive in our later years. May he extend well beyond his golf-playing days and into our future.


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