Changeling (2008)

(On Cable TV, February 2015)  I really should like Changeling.  It is, after all, an unusually fact-based film about historical Los Angeles, social injustice and sordid crime.  It’s written by J. Michael Straczynski (who has earned a permanent residency in my brain after writing most of Babylon-5), directed by Clint Eastwood and features both Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich in pivotal roles.  It starts slowly as a single-mother dramatic mystery, then gradually gets bigger and bigger until it sweeps the entire California judicial system.  The historical re-creation of 1930(ish) Los Angeles is fascinating, and even the small details of the film are worth a few wonders.  Alas, it feels interminable, and it tackles a subject, child endangerment, that I find unbearable these days.  Sticking close to the historical facts, Changeling is also forbidden from a conventionally satisfying conclusion: at best, it finds hope in a delusion and stops before the inevitable darkness comes back.  At times, watching the film felt like a singularly dull self-imposed ordeal, especially once it makes its way past the two-hour duration.  I’m certainly not saying that the film is bad –I am saying, however, that Changeling feels heavy and fit for a particular kind of viewer in a particular kind of mood.

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