Changeling : Depressing but a must watch

Warning : This post contains spoilers

Normally after watching a random movie, I wouldn’t even think twice about it at the end. But after watching Changeling, scenes from the movie kept me thinking for hours. I was quite disturbed. What makes it even more chilling is that it was based on a true event.

Changeling (not to be confused with The Changeling) is a movie set in the 1920s, revolving around a single mother called Christine (Angelina Jolie). It was interesting seeing the clothes, the cars, the buildings – reflecting the era. And of how women are just starting to be empowered and starting to join the workforce right after the first world war.

Nevertheless, I imagine how challenging it is to live as a single mother after the husband left her, right as her son, Walter was being born. Being a single parent was probably unheard of and looked down on during that time (although I didn’t see any overt biasness depicted in the movie)

One day, she comes back from work and finds her son missing. She asks the police for help. But it was only after the help of a reverend with a popular radio show, that the police started to be active in the belief that it will negate any negative publicity.

After an uneventful wait and public pressure, 5 months later they brought a boy and claimed it was her son. But upon first looking at him, she realised he’s not hers but she was pressured into taking him home anyway so that the press could continue with their “happy ending story”

From this point onwards was where the story picks up and gets disturbing. I’m not a mother, but I’m pretty sure that any mother could recognize their own child. So to have the police chief constantly dismissing her that she’s only stressed, that was why her child looks different. That was just wrong.

And then a doctor (who was probably in cahoots with the chief) was called in to do a house call to give his “expert opinion”. And when told that her son is supposed to be taller than the impostor, the doctor simply told her that the trauma from being away from home shrunk his spine. THIS DOESN’T MAKE SENSE! I know that in the 1920s, technology wasn’t that advanced, but come on, people aren’t that gullible are they?

Nevertheless, Christine has the backing of the dentist and the school teacher who after examining and observing the imposter, testified that the boy was indeed not the real Walter.

I don’t understand how could the police be so lax. While I’m not a parent, wouldn’t anyone working there have a connection to the child kidnapping case? (Walter Collins was one of about 20 the way) and I’m pretty sure that there are fathers in there. What would they have done if it were their own child? And why are they so quick to hide it under the carpet?

What’s worse is, that the chief and the captain tries to point the finger on the mother instead and tries to paint her as an irresponsible mother, never taking responsibility. But what tops it all was that, just as she was about to tell her story to the press, was to deem her as psychotic and without a warrant, had her warded in a psychiatric ward. A sane woman. She was told that she’d only be allowed freedom if she signs a document that the police was right and that the impostor was her son all along.

This was hard to watch as a psychiatric ward in the 20s were different to the ones we have now. At the time, they use water-jet therapy and electro-shock therapy which I think is extremely inhumane.

We find out later that there were other mothers like her who were warded against their will. And eventually after a separate investigation, we find out that her son was a possible victim of a deranged murderer who goes around picking stray kids. He imprisons them in a chicken coop, molests and then murders them (usually with an axe) and I gasped and kept thinking to myself, “How could anyone do this?”

Which is quite against the flow of how people are always reminiscing about the good old days. Seems things are more violent then.

Anyway, there was a happier ending to the movie as there was a huge public support, with people protesting and volunteering their services. And eventually after the big trial, the captain and the chief were removed from duty, the murderer condemned to death and one of the boys thought to be dead is found alive, giving Christine hope that her son is still alive.

In conclusion, I have no idea why this movie is categoried under “Feel good” because it was extremely depressing for me to watch. I don’t usually read reviews before watching a movie, so it took me by surprise at how sad it was considering that it was based on a true story not scripted. The movie was based on true events and excerpts from interviews and the trial.

Nevertheless, I recommend this movie as it is a must watch. If you haven’t watched it, please do. The acting is extremely believable and strong. The costumes and set are flawless. The music scores pulls you. The storyline starts out slow, but you never feel bored watching it and the scenes draw you in completely. I got to hand it to Clint Eastwood as an excellent director and for making this masterpiece.

Now if you would excuse me while I go all emo again …