Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

25 November 2008

Clint Eastwood 2008 Film #1

I finally scrounged up enough time to go see Clint Eastwood's Changeling last week. I figured it will be out of theaters soon and I would miss it if I didn't go soon.

I liked this picture. It is not going to be for everyone and it isn't a great movie by any means, but it is a very respectable picture; well shot, nicely staged. In discussion, I keep calling Changeling a "quality" film. It is a good script (by J. Michael Straczynski) and it is very well acted by a company of talented folks (helmed by the luminous Angelina Jolie, but including Michael Kelly, John Malkovich, and Jeffrey Donovan). A young man named Eddie Alderson gives a great performance—one of the best in the film—as a young murderer who is roped into killing Angelina Jolie's little boy (maybe).

Changeling is not without its problems. The lead character lacks a strong narrative arc and the plot occasionally follows various subplots that feel out of place and ill-motivated. Still, the subplots converge well enough, and each has an emotional payoff. The movie is never boring and it's filled with a bevy of intriguing villains and seedy elements as well as a noble heroine.

As far as Oscar, I think the film is not really going to catch hold. I love Angelina Jolie, but I don't think the Academy is really on the bandwagon. She was fantastic in last year's A Mighty Heart, had tons of early buzz, and still didn't get a nomination. And, as the title of this post hints, Eastwood has another movie coming out this season (Gran Torino) that is also getting very good reviews. Changeling, therefore, may only end up getting some below-the-line buzz (costumes, cinematography, art direction, screenplay) and may not even get those.

Still, this is quality filmmaking, and I found the film emotionally satisfying, well directed and intelligent.