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Changeling Review Critics


Dave White Profile

...this is a good one. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    J. Michael Straczynski's disjointed script manages to ring false at almost every significant turn (Collins' psychiatric-hospital stay has grown into a latter-day version of "The Snake Pit") and Clint Eastwood's ponderous direction -- a disheartening departure from his sure touch in "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "The Bridges of Madison County" -- magnifies the flaws.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    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."

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    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.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    In Changeling Eastwood continues to probe uncomfortable subjects to depict the individual and even existential struggle to do what is right.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Suspenseful, overlong drama isn't meant for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 1920s-set drama recounts real-life events that could be quite disturbing to children and young teens. It examines the disappearance of a young boy who was likely murdered; some upsetting scenes show what might have been his ghastly misfortune. There are some gory images, and wrongfully imprisoned women are treated very badly in a psych ward. Authority figures are unreliable and commit betrayals, and there's some mild swearing (including a few uses of "f--k") and period-accurate smoking.

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. What does it say about people in positions of authority? Is the implication that all such people are unreliable, or just the characters in the movie? Why do you think Christine was betrayed the way she was? Do you think something like this could happen today? How would you characterize director Clint Eastwood's approach to telling this story? Families can also discuss the film's accuracy. Why might filmmakers bend the truth when making a movie based on real life? How could you find out more about Christine's case if you wanted to?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: A serial killer is on the loose, but nobody discovers his grisly misdeeds until it's far too late and many lives have been lost. A mother is clearly loving but leaves her 9-year-old alone in the house when a work emergency arises. Corrupt cops take advantage of defenseless women. Ultimately, a defenseless woman manages to tap into a deep well of courage and seeks justice. There's a very loving, close mother-son relationship.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: A few gory moments, including one scene in which a murderer has blood spattered on his face, presumably because he's in the middle of a heinous crime. Women are wrongfully imprisoned in a psych ward, where they're physically forced to take medication, asked to sign documents incriminating themselves, slapped and dragged, and given electroshock therapy for insubordination. A confession scene includes stomach-turning images and descriptions. Machine guns are fired. An execution by hanging is shown from beginning to end. Loud confrontations between a criminal and the mother of one of his victims.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Mild flirting.

  • language false3

    Language: Mostly tame, with words like "damn" and "hell," though the words "son of a bitch" and "f--k" are used in a few instances.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Brands and signage for Pacific Telephone & Telegraph, Bummy's Diner, KGF News Radio, Colgate, and more.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Lots of period-accurate smoking. Some characters are forced to take tranquilizers against their will.