Changeling Decent but Flawed

A plain headline for what critics call a plainly told movie
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2008 12:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – There’s a kidnapping, corrupt police, a trip to a mental hospital, a serial killer, even a hooker with a heart of gold. “If Changeling were fiction, you’d accuse it of being over the top,” writes David Ansen of Newsweek. Instead, it’s based on a true story, and Clint Eastwood’s “classical repose lifts the lurid tale to a different level.” But not everyone agrees with that rosy assessment.

Richard Corliss of Time thinks Eastwood’s “just the facts, ma’am” storytelling has an “honorable payoff,” but finds Angelina Jolie grossly miscast. Dana Stevens of Slate agrees about Jolie (her celebrity is probably outsized for the role), while decrying the film’s moral simplicity. “Eastwood’s rigorous craftsmanship seems wasted on a movie whose message never rises above the bumper-sticker admonition that ‘mean people suck.’”