Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 38
  2. Negative: 3 out of 38
  1. A disturbing film about grim subject matter, but the overall experience is more exhilarating than saddening. There's just something satisfying about seeing a movie so well made.
  2. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    100
    A compelling, adult period thriller, with an Oscar-assured performance from Angelina Jolie.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    100
    Emotionally powerful and stylistically sure-handed, this true story-inspired drama begins small with the disappearance of a young boy, only to gradually fan out to become a comprehensive critique of the entire power structure of Los Angeles, circa 1928.
  4. Changeling doesn't care if you love it or hate it, it makes no compromises to fashion and it's charged with that unmistakable assurance of a master filmmaker at his creative peak.
  5. In Changeling Eastwood continues to probe uncomfortable subjects to depict the individual and even existential struggle to do what is right.
  6. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    Eastwood tells his haunting, sorrowful saga with such a sure, steady hand, only a very hardened cynic could fail to be moved.
  7. 90
    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 at the perpetual anguish of victims' families.
  8. 88
    Jolie is inspired casting. She plays the role like a gathering storm, moving from terror to a fierce resolve. And Eastwood, at the peak of his artful powers, tightens the screws of suspense without ever forgetting where the heart of his film lies.
  9. 88
    Jolie, Malkovich and Geoff Pierson, as a lawyer who takes Collins' case before the Police Board, are very good at what they do very well. The film's most riveting performance is by Jason Butler Harner as the murderous Gordon Northcott.
  10. 88
    Another remarkable addition to Eastwood's directorial canon.
  11. 80
    Changeling is an almost universally impressive all-around effort, and is the best "dirty underbelly of Los Angeles" movie since "L.A. Confidential."
  12. In other hands, these clashes of good and evil might have seemed ordinary, but Eastwood makes Changeling a hard story to shake off. To see this film is to understand both how fragile and how essential our hopes for decency and truth are in a world that must be made to care about either one.
  13. Changeling fundamentally works; it holds you. But these issues of texture and detail matter too, and they hold clues as to why Eastwood's latest is a good, solid achievement rather than a great, grieving one.
  14. 75
    The movie has an epic sweep but an intimate, personal feel. 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.
  15. 75
    Eastwood creates a tone that's at once stately and unsettling, allowing a lot of breathing room for Jolie's sad, unyielding performance. She anchors a film that needs an anchor the further it goes along.
  16. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    70
    In its purposeful accumulation of depravities, both individual and institutional, the director's non-style has an honorable payoff that's rare in modern Hollywood cinema: the story's weight could come close to burying you in despair.
  17. 70
    Changeling is beautifully wrought, but it has the abiding fault of righteously indignant filmmaking: it congratulates us for feeling what we already feel.
  18. Eastwood gets all noirish for us but, like Jolie's performance, there's a rote quality to it all. Even the mournful little ditties that Eastwood composed for the soundtrack seem canned.
  19. While components of Eastwood's film are excellent, in particular Kelly's quietly tenacious performance and the evocative period details, Changeling is a film of parts, not a unified whole.
  20. Reviewed by: Jason Buchanan
    63
    Perhaps with a few more drafts, the filmmakers could have found a means of maintaining the quiet momentum displayed early on, but as it stands, Changeling is little more than a frustrating missed opportunity that's dressed to the nines, but a day late for the party.
  21. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    63
    While the neo-Gothic tale is inherently intriguing, the film should inspire strong emotion, but deliberate pacing and a contained sense of melodrama make it a surprisingly passive experience.
  22. 63
    While Straczynski should be commended for remaining reasonably true to the historical record, this results in an open-ended conclusion that isn't entirely satisfying.
  23. No matter how strange it gets, or how distorted for political gain or refined for religious purposes, its essence is hard to pin down, even after a 2 1/2 -hour search.
  24. The script is compelling, the direction confident, the production values professional. But it does not, in the end, feel real.
  25. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    60
    All of Eastwood's rigorous craftsmanship seems wasted on a movie whose message never rises above the bumper-sticker admonition that "mean people suck."
  26. 50
    As Changeling strains toward its mawkishly optimistic conclusion, the old-fashioned moviemaking that Eastwood settled into doesn't suit either him or his star. It feels like a corny joke.
  27. The result is a film that plays like a creaking melodrama, with good guys and bad guys and precious little in between.
  28. 50
    Eastwood's grim handling of even grimmer subject matter could have used some paring down toward its histrionic ending, but Changeling is still one of the director's most assured and engaging historical horror shows.
  29. The trouble with Changeling is that it plays less like reality than like a bare-bones, moralistic rehash of other, better movies, such as "L.A. Confidential" or "Frances."
  30. An extremely weird and frustrating viewing experience. I think it's that way because Eastwood, 78, can't be bothered to wrangle the vast material into a tighter shape.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 148 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 50
  2. Negative: 8 out of 50
  1. Jul 16, 2013
    10
    Changeling is directed by Clint Eastwood (Great Director) and Angelina Jolie (Great Actress) which follows the story of Christine Collins (Great Story) whose son went missing on March 10th 1928, she reported her missing son to the police department (Great Department that is corrupt and would do whatever to keep their heads up, even by being corrupt) and the went searching for him. Three months later, they thought that they "found him" but as it turns out it is not her son, so the police department won't handle the truth (will give them great shame) so they decide to send to a The movie is actually very realistic and moving in a riveting way, with the first rate art direction (Great Direction) and great performances but heartbreaking story. When you watch Changeling, it sends you to the 1928, as if you feel that you are really someone in the movie, you get involved in everything Christine is involved in, it is truly amazing who you feel in the movie, you get disturbed and sad, but you would never want it to end, you still wanna live in the town to see what will happen next, it is really amusing and spectacular with photography and soundtrack that you will never ever forget. Everything above is greatness, which shows that Changeling is a true masterpiece and one of the best movies of all time. Full Review »
  2. PaulC
    Mar 14, 2009
    0
    I feel compelled to cast my first ever viewer vote here at metacritic.com because this is absolutely one of the worst movies I've seen in my entire life. Interestingly, I knew little about the film and did not know who had directed it while watching, and was mildly shocked at the end to see Clint Eastwood's name roll through the credit as director. As much as I loved "Unforgiven", you, Clint, are unforgiven for this horrible mess of a film. Grossly overwritten, every line tries it's damnedest to impart extreme gravitas or pith. And every one of these horribly cheesy lines is delivered by a walking piece of cardboard character. Jolie, cue the tears, nominated for best actress? Please, maybe a nomination for best weight-loss not required by a role. The only engaging character of the movie was the killer himself, who imbued his part with the appropriate creepiness that this movie fully deserved. I honestly, honestly have never seen a movie with this level of budget, actors and director be so miserably overwritten, consequently overacted, with an enraging attempt at sentimentality as it desperately tries to salvage itself through emotional manipulation strangely in bed with pure shock value. Full Review »
  3. May 18, 2012
    7
    A heart wrenching movie based off a true story. Angelina Jolie was excellent in her role as Christine Collins a distraught mother who's son is missing. Changeling is truly a heartbreaking film. Full Review »