Based on some actual events, this film is a grim yet fascinating study of the disempowerment of women and an examination of corruption within heirarchical structures. The story itself is that of the disappearance of a boy during the late 1920s. After an iffy investigation, a boy matching the description of the missing is returned ot the mother. However, it's not her son, and, despite all her attempts to convince people otherwise, the mother goes through hell tring to figure out the truth and get some closure.
This is a long movie, and deliberately paced, and it is a little uneven, yet I was never really bored, always finding something great to look at or think about. The film is a litle overstuffed, trying to do perhaps too much, but given the running time, it's better to have too much going on instead of not enough. In any case, this is all extremely gripping stuff.
Angelina Jolie does a wonderful job as the mother, John Malkovich, actually portraying a benevolent character, is also quite good. For me though, it's Jeffrey Donovan and a bunch of the character actors in supporting roles who all show up throught who really bring the house down acting wise.
There's a lot of attention to period detail here, and the film does a really good job of getting the sets, styles, and attitudes of the period down correctly. It was cool seeing the retro Universal Pictures logo at the beginning as well. Even though the films does have a few issues, I bet no one will argue that it is a goregous looking film with some truly stunning camera work. Tom Stern, who has been working with Eastwood since 2002 is really an unsung hero of the cinematography world.
One little thing I liked is the filter that was used to give the film an older look, similar to what was done on O Brother Where Art Thou, only not as extreme.
You should give this film a look. It's ambitious, filled with tension and dread, and filled with food for thought. It's a nicely played drama, despite trying to do so much and having a story that shifts from a mystery thriller to a serial killer yarn.