Changeling (Eastwood, 2008)

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A bit too many dramatic close-ups, or musical crescendos, or plot twists, so Changeling ends as a rare case of grandstanding from master director Clint Eastwood. When I say grandstanding, I mean an overwhelming interpretation of formal par excellence (commissioned wonderfully by stalwart cameraman Tom Stern) in place of his usual emphasis on story. That said, Changeling resonates most beautifully when off the beaten path, i.e. when away from Angelina Jolie’s heartbroken but convicted grieving mother. One moment at the scene of the crime, where an L.A. cop ascends on a dirty, rigid, and altogether rusty ranch, Eastwood’s pacing finally brims with the menace felt so deeply in his masterpieces of recent years. A misfire for sure, but one packed with mood and atmosphere to fawn over.

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