Who’s In It: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Colm Feore, Jeffrey Donovan, Michael Kelly, Amy Ryan
The Basics: In Los Angeles, in 1928, a single mother’s child disappeared for several months. Several months later a boy was returned to the mother and authorities assured her that he was, in fact, her son. He wasn’t, and the woman’s relentless search for her child uncovered a huge police corruption scandal as well as one of the first hugely sensational serial killer cases of the early 20th century. So yeah, true story, and one that director Clint Eastwood sticks to pretty closely facts-wise, and that star Angelina Jolie manages to transcend her Big Magnetic Overpowering Movie Star persona for in order to make you really care about what happens next. You could Google the case and spoil it for yourself if you wanted to. But this is a good one; you won’t want to.
What’s The Deal: You know what’s cool about a movie that isn’t so stupid you have to make allowances for it just so you can feel not-cheated out of your ticket money? That big studios make so few of them that they feel even better than they probably are. And the fact that Clint Eastwood doesn’t talk down to his audience or give them easy ways out, that he can handle big vague themes like “justice” and “truth” and “good vs. evil” and not come off as trite or corny or overwrought, makes him a director mainstream movie audiences should be grateful they have.
Why Feminism Happened: Set 80 years in the past, it’s also a glimpse into the crushing, oppressive way that women were treated by authority figures and by the culture. When they called you “little lady” back then you were expected to act like one, shut up, sit down and behave. Of course this movie's particular little lady sort of became a much-more-prone-to-weeping version of Eastwood’s Man With No Name, so you get a little bit of satisfaction in return all the suffering and abuse you see her having to deal with.
Name To Know: Amy Ryan. If you saw 2007's Gone Baby Gone, she was the extremely unfit mother of that movie’s own missing child. And she was awesome. She’s here again, still keeping it gritty as a mental hospital patient who’s not crazy, merely a foul-mouthed prostitute. She may never be a leading lady in the Angie style, but you should know who she is and check out her work.
One Weird Thing: There’s something vaguely horror-movie-adjacent about this whole thing and, while I like the feel of that, it’s not entirely right for the subject matter. It doesn’t help that there was a sort-of-dopey early '80s horror movie called The Changeling already.