When you have a Clint Eastwood-helmed picture, you know you'll probably get at least two things out of it: great acting and depression (seriously, this man needs to make a comedy or something). Changeling is about a lot of things, but it starts when Christine Collins' (Angelina Jolie) son, Walter (Gattlin Griffith), disappears. For months the LAPD looks for him and finally find him in a whole other state. Unfortunately, according to Christine, it's not actually her son. And no matter what she says, neither Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) or Chief Davis (Colm Feore) will do anything to help, and actually say that she's crazy and making up lies. But when Detective Lester Ybarra (Michael Kelly) stumbles upon a seemingly unrelated case, things start to line up together and, with the help of Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), Christine will do anything in her power to get to the bottom of things and find her son (assuming he's still alive).
Now this was a long movie, but it didn't feel like it dragged at any point in time (except maybe the beginning, but that was needed to set everything up). It actually held my interest all the way through up until the Return of the King-style ending, wherein it felt like the movie just kept jumping further and further along, never wanting to quit. But in the end, it all added together for a really good (albeit slightly depressing) experience.
The best thing this movie had going for it was the acting. My goodness, was this movie acted well. From the big names of the film (Jolie and Malkovich), to the supporting roles (Donovan and Kelly), and even to the barely-in-it roles, this movie was acted phenomenally. Amy Ryan, despite the very few scenes she was in, stole every one of them. After the great job in Gone Baby Gone wherein she held a good chunk of a movie, to the great job she does in this, wherein she's only in a few scenes, you can really tell she's heading for the top.
The next thing to bring up would be the look/feel of the movie, all brought together by the direction of Clint Eastwood. The movie felt very 1920s, from the clothes and houses to the cars and speech styles. It was quite believable and done very well. The camera work also stood out to me, though there were a couple interesting choices that I might not have stuck with in the end (a few scenes where the camera was stuck behind John Malkovich's head, leaving for an awkward angle/shot).
There really isn't much else I feel I can say about the film. It's one of Angelina's best that she's done, and I think one of Eastwood's best, as I, for once, actually don't feel it would be overrated. The only thing I might have done would to have changed the title, as the only thing the movie had to do with mythological Changelings was a switched child—and that whole plot of the movie wasn't even the only focus. Halfway in, the movie changes completely with a new added plot, and it starts becoming more about something else entirely (but then brings it all back to the switched boy... but still). Great performances. Great story. Great film.