If Changeling lacks the knockout power of, say, Million Dollar Baby, it proves that Eastwood continues to seek out stories that take him places he hasn't been before -- and the audience along with him.
Eastwood, working from a script by J. Michael Straczynski, tells a painful true story neatly and well, with one foot in rousing Hollywood melodrama and the other in a story that resists tidy resolution.
Normally, Jolie is an actress capable of both intensity and subtlety, but her performance here is too amped up to register as anything more than a star turn. Did nobody notice that the real Angelina had been snatched?
This incredible but true story marks the first time Eastwood's signature themes have found expression in a woman's experience, and the absence of any distracting machismo only heightens his sense of helpless rage.
The Changeling doesn't invite the viewer to share in its heroine's disorientation, rage, and grief. Rather, it keeps us at a stately remove, presenting Christine's suffering as a kind of religious tableau.
Biblically classical, tastefully vintage with aerial shots of wet umbrellas and Homburg hats and not a little staid considering its sensational source material, Changeling isn't so much dull as it is an open book.
The oldfangled deliberateness of Eastwood's style has backfired this time, only adding to the sense that though you may not have heard this particular story before, you already know everything that's coming.