Monday, March 19, 2012
Before watching, I had heard of this movie, but not in detail. After reading the short summary on IMDb, I thought I was going to see a semi-horror movie, with a kind of freaky monster-like impostor pretending to be Christine Collins' child, terrorising his mother. This, evidently, seemed a wrong presumption.
First of all, this movie was based on a true story that happened in 1928. That excludes any real monsters and ghosts, as far as I know. Secondly, the director is Clint Eastwood. Not really known for horror movies. The story tells us the tale of a single mother, Christine Collins (played by Angelina Jolie), whose child has gone missing. During that time, the local police force (the LAPD) had quite a bad reputation as a gang of trigger-happy tough guys, who can't solve any real problems (like finding a missing child). A few months after the kidnapping, the LAPD presumably finds the missing child. After confrontation with his mother, she claims the child isn't hers. This takes the movie into a sort of power struggle between the mighty man-controlled police force, often acting above the law, and the 'weak' mother who is portrayed as a crazy woman by the police and the press while she's trying to find her real son. Eventually the mother is proved right, because a 'murderer' is found, who killed several children including her son.
Though the story was quite shocking and succeeded in painting the contemporal situation, I found the two and a half hour long movie quite tedious (something I have with several movies directed by Eastwood). The story progressed slowly in the beginning, and it could have ended about five times before the unnecessary 'cliffhanger' ending.
Apart from that, the story was brought quite plainly, (probably) quite truthfully following the viewpoint of the mother, presenting the LAPD as the absolute bad guys. Hell, they were even worse than the murderer himself. It was clear from the beginning the mother was right, and not crazy at all. Therefore it's hard to follow the decision-making of the police, who did not really believe the woman. From a more objective standpoint, I actually could somewhat relate to their decisions. After all, for the police it was the word of the mother against that of the boy, who claims she really IS his mother. I think the movie would be far deeper and more intense if the viewer wasn't immediately given proof that the mother was right, leaving the moral interpretation of both parties open for debate.
The acting, on the other hand, was very nice to say the least. Personally, I'm not a fan of Jolie involving anything besides her appearance :). But, honor to those who deserve it: she brought her role in a convincing manner, not forgetting the story took place in 1928. I tip my hat to her and congratulate her on her nomination for an oscar for best actress.
John Malkovich also brings a relieving tone to the movie playing a rebellious reverend, and I really liked the acting of Jeffrey Donovan as the above-the-law police captain. They all succeeded in spicing up the movie.
On a last note: I didn't know Clint Eastwood could make music.
To summarize: Compelling story told in a tedious fashion, but spiced with very nice acting performances.