'Changeling' is a very important film. It probes the horrific corruption that the L.A.P.D. indulged in in the late 1920s. L.A.P.D. has had a reputation and this film is another in a series of films (L.A. Confidential, Black Dahlia, Hollywoodland, Lonely Hearts) that goes about portraying that. It does a fairly good job at that. You get the film's message loud and clear and too many times actually. It is drawn out, made literal and laid bare in elaborate detail in front of you. There is no way you forget what a horrific place the west can (still) be. Elaborate costumes and set pieces further make the point. You will not come out without being moved by the onscreen horror.

'Changeling' is a not-so-subtle title as it literally gives you the plot of the film and the film wastes no time getting on with its business. A child is lost from an L.A. suburb and apparently found. Or is he? The film is really about the lost boy's mother seeking closure and a police department that finds the whole business an unnecessary nuisance.

Changeling is one of Clint Eastwood's weakest films I've seen. It is all about form over function. Sometimes it is hard to understand whether the film was made by Eastwood or by Angelina Jolie (boy's mother) who, even by her standards, gives one of the most off-key performances you'll see in an important film. The film portrays her as a heroin for 'fighting' the police department for her son. However, facts show that she mostly got lucky as incidents beyond her control came together to help her against the police. Like most heros - her prime qualification was being in the right place at the right time.

However, the biggest issue I had was with her portrayal as the grieving mother. She has her moments of loud screams and hows of disgust. But then she has her moments of silent, borderline sensual, smiles or the freakish red lipstick and a hat that acts more than she does. Things that are simply jarring and make you wonder whether she even 'gets' the role she is playing. Her 'star' presence diminishes the tragedy of the story.

Sitting to watch Changeling, we end up watching "Changelina" and that is the real tragedy of the film.