“The Changeling” – Joanna Langfield reviews

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One could be forgiven, watching this period melodrama, mistaking it for a 1930s or 40’s Hollywood production: because Clint Eastwood’s careful mounting of this sadly true tale is very much of that period.

The actual story, of a missing child questionably returned to his Los Angeles single mother, happened in the 1920’s and ‘30s. Amazingly, the cops there, wanting a quick resolution to the case, publicly reunited the woman with a boy not her own, forcing her to take that child and keep quiet about it. With the help of a publicity minded, and pretty fed up local clergyman, the truth is not only told, but the corrupt LA Police Department is taken down with it.

Angelina Jolie does a fine job here, as does co-star John Malcovich, portraying these historical figures with respect and dignity. Both actors put a lid on their usual glistening star power, subjugating their own glamour to the work at hand. And Eastwood, paying careful attention to period detail and style, does the same. It’s an impressive, unsettling and not altogether thrilling piece of work, much like the old black and white, female driven dramas that were made by the dozens back when there was no television and entertainment hungry audiences flocked to theaters on a regular basis.

Just as a footnote: when I saw this movie, at a very early screening, before all the commercials and publicity hit, one of the bonuses in it for me, as a viewer, was discovering this pretty awful, true story. Now that the “surprises” of it are widely known, I’m not sure the enthralling process of watching the story unfold hasn’t been terribly compromised, tarnishing the rewards for the audience. I’m just saying.

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Joanna Langfield (Archived Contributor)

Her voice is heard throughout the 50 states and around the world by more than one million listeners on her syndicated radio programs: Joanna Langfield’s People Report and Video and Movie Minute. She’s also seen and heard as a regular contributing commentator on CNN International, CNN, Fox News and CNBC. In print, her articles have been published in such high profile magazines as Video Review and McCall’s. Joanna Langfield is known for taking interviews to another level with probing looks at celebrities’ insights rather than just their latest projects. As a result, she’s secured a niche among the nation’s premier interviewers and movie critics. Joanna began her career on the production staff of a local Boston television station. She then focused her energies towards radio and produced talk shows at WMEX-AM in Boston. After moving to New York, she became executive producer at WMCA-AM for talk show personalities Barry Gray and Sally Jessy Raphael. She began hosting a one-minute movie review spot which, in turn, led to her top-rated weekend call in-show, The Joanna Langfield Show (1980-83). Joanna moved to WABC-AM to host The Joanna Langfield Show on Saturday nights from 9:00pm to midnight. It was the highest rated show in its time slot. From 1987-1989, Joanna hosted Today’s People on the ABC Radio network, which was fed daily to over 300 stations around the country. She also appeared on WABC-TV as a regular on-air contributor. In 1989, Joanna formed her radio production company, Joanna Langfield Entertainment Reports, to syndicate her radio reports. She is considered to be one of the top authoritative commentators on the entertainment industry. Read Lagfield's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "Joanna Langfield" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).