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Clint Eastwood's Changeling Is The Best Of The Festival So Far

Posted on Tuesday May 20, 2008, 12:22 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Clint Eastwood's Changeling Is The Best Of The Festival So Far

Apologies for the lack of blogging yesterday, but sometimes in Cannes time just doesn't allow it. People to meet, films to see, you know the drill; but what quickly became apparent was that, at such a relatively late stage in the festival – a time when clear favourites start to emerge – it seems there's no general consensus on the film that will take, or rather deserve, the Palme D'Or. In Screen International's critics poll, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Three Monkeys is leading, with the Israeli film Waltz With Bashir in close pursuit. Empire's tip, though, is Gomorra, a tough, narratively loose but ultimately compelling crime drama about a gang-controlled housing estate in Napoli.

It begins with a brutal whack in a tanning salon and gradually reveals a number of intertwining stories. One deals with the bagman who pays the families of members in jail, another focuses on a kid who's clearly about to go the criminal way, and the best concerns two punks who decide the town is theirs for the taking, ignoring their seniors and starting a petty crimewave that puts their lives in danger. What puts it in the frame for a Palme D'Or is that, while it has genre overtones, this is no GoodFellas, or even City Of God. The style is low-key but up close and in your face; director Matteo Garrone has revealed that his aim was to simply follow the action like a passer-by, walking through this war zone. As a result, its commercial potential may be restricted, which could sway the jury into giving it a helping hand. The fact that it reveals the extent of corruption in Italy and the world at large may also catch the eye of politically minded jury president Sean Penn.

This morning's competition film is definitely going to join the front of the pack, though it's unlikely that a Hollywood film, even one as good as this, will take the big prize. Instead, we're thinking that the jury may do what they did last year and use their special dispensation to create a one-off award for its director, Clint Eastwood. Quite simply, his new film Changeling is flawless, with Clint proving yet again that he is the true master of the great American film. The French title translates as The Exchange, which is a clearer reflection of this fascinating, multi-faceted drama, which begins in 1928 when single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) returns from work to find her son Walter missing. Several months later Walter is returned to her, but Christine isn't too happy about it, chiefly because the boy is not her son: he's a good three inches shorter, his dental records don't match and his teacher swears blind that the kid has never set foot in her classroom.

Fans of classic Hollywood neo-noir will be delighted to hear that the force, literally, behind this mix-up is the LAPD, whose role in the affair becomes more and more desperate and fascistic as the tangle unfolds. In this way, the film resembles a new Chinatown or, more realistically, LA Confidential: on the surface it's a story about a woman's fight for justice but underneath there's a terrific adult drama about the painful birth of the latter-day City Of Angels. Hollywood surfaces towards the end in a nice nod to the 1935 Oscar broadcast, with Jolie tut-tutting about the “overrated” Cleopatra, having correctly placed a bet on Frank Capra's It Happened One Night instead. Is this hubris or tempting fate? Because, early next year, it's safe to say that Changeling will be in the Academy frame itself, when the 2008 nominations are announced, with likely places in the Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor (for John Malkovich as Christine's champion), Best Screenplay and Best Score, for the haunting theme penned by Clint himself. No praise is too high for this thoughtful, engrossing, intelligent film. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

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1 britesparc
Posted on Tuesday May 20, 2008, 13:30
REALLY looking forward to The Changelling now. But is it as good as the creepy 1970s horror film of the same name, with the ghost in the wheelchair?! That's what I wanna know!

2 MarieMJS
Posted on Tuesday May 20, 2008, 13:45
OOOOOh I'm so glad it's good, but really, Eastwood can't do wrong.
I'm also glad that a director of that talent has no problem casting Angelina Jolie in this kind of role. She's a great actress, people tend to forget it...
Can't wait for this one either!

3 cece
Posted on Tuesday May 20, 2008, 13:59
The story sounded intriuging and somehting that Clint would be able to put his masterful story telling mind to. Pour moi truly excited cannot wait to see it.Clint...

4 olirog
Posted on Tuesday May 20, 2008, 18:19
Clint Eastwood is one of the best directors in the world. Amazing, the career trajectory he's achieved. His is an example of what intelligence, thoughtfulness, compassion and a spare mastery of directing, let alone acting, can create, again and again. Cannes should forget that he's a product of Hollywood and just judge his latest movie for what it is.

5 rob_devitt
Posted on Friday May 23, 2008, 07:47
Clint eastwood is a legend. The only true actor/director who's as talented either side of the camera. If it is as good as Million Dollat Baby or half as good as unforgiven it will be unmissable.

6 DJH17
Posted on Wednesday March 24, 2010, 16:50

7 DJH17
Posted on Wednesday March 24, 2010, 16:52
Test on IE

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