Reviewed on 2008 November 3
Very upsetting true story that started in 1928, well-acted by the entire cast. With the double-header of Clint Eastwood directing and J. Michael Straczynski’s script, I was anxious to see this since I first heard about it, and it was even better than I thought. This comes with a Kleenex Advisory though — it puts you through the wringer.
Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) is a single mother to Walter (Gattlin Griffith). She juggles her son and a career at Pacific Telephone & Telegraph in a pre-Chinatown L.A. and while it can’t be easy, she clearly loves Walter very much. She plans a Saturday of movie serials and a Charlie Chaplin film for him. She gets called into the office on her day off, of all things, and she makes a promise to the disappointed Walter that she’ll take him to the movies the next day. She leaves some food for him in the refrigerator and tells him the neighbors will be in to check on him, and that she’ll be home as soon as she can.
Christine comes home to an empty house. There’s no sign of Walter and the food she left for him is untouched. She frantically calls the police, only to be told that they wait 24 hours before acting on reports of missing children. She’s devistated, until the police call her back one day, claiming they found her boy. She realizes right away that it’s not her Walter, but Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) insists it’s her son, and that she’s still in shock. Nobody on the police force seems to be interested in helping Christine, and her only ally is Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), a vocal Presbyterian pastor who’s been disgusted for some time with the LAPD.
I don’t understand the complaints about the movie being too long; you couldn’t have trimmed it much without losing a sizable amount of its impact. I’m not a weeper at movies but I felt my eyes fill up a couple times during this. The rest of the time I was just shaking my head in disgust at how this case was handled. What’s really upsetting is neither Eastwood nor Straczynski changed the real story that much, and based on some of the stuff I’ve read (read it after the movie) they may have even toned a few things down.
Three chocolate morsels, and some old-fashioned caramel corn.