Clint Eastwood's Changeling Struggling for Early Buzz
by Alex Billington
October 3, 2008
Coming off of films like Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Letters from Iwo Jima, one would've expected Clint Eastwood to continue directing nothing but solid hits. His latest film, Changeling, had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and seemed to pick up some solid buzz. However, the film is currently showing at the New York Film Festival and reviews coming out of that have been rather dismal. At this point I'm not sure which opinion to trust more with such a wide range of reviews, but it's clear that Changeling isn't getting the early buzz that most thought it would.
The negative reviews from the NYFF have been coming in from a few sources, namely Karina Longworth at Spout. She jokingly says of the film: "We drink every time Angelina hysterically proclaims, 'He's not my son!' We get very drunk, and this may be why we can't figure out why Clint Eastwood made a cheap-looking Lifetime movie that eventually turns into an 'And justice for all!' episode of SVU." And apparently Ed Douglas of ComingSoon gave it a bad review too but that hasn't been published yet. The Playlist also isn't too happy with the film, saying, "While it's another stoic drama, with its graceful beats, measured tones and an Oscar-deserving performance by Angelina Jolie, Changeling, is also a little endlessly long, far-fetched and replete with the predictable classic Hollywood filmmaking notes that Oscar love."
On the other hand, those coming out of Cannes seemed to really like the film. Kim Voynar gave it a positive review, saying "he's an excellent storyteller, and does a solid job of translating true events into a dramatic story. There's no jarring wooden dialog here, no overt exposition… As with most of Eastwood's films, it's artfully shot and directed and very pretty to look at. Eastwood wrote the music for the film as well, and you could practically imagine the orchestra at the Oscars playing it in January." Additionally, our own Marco Cerritos gave it a very solid B+ rating, with some exuberant lines like: "Dripping with tension and suspense, the period crime thriller accomplishes two things: to successfully bring a disturbing true story to light and to immerse lead actress Angelina Jolie with a role she really sinks her teeth into."
So what gives? Is Changeling really that bad or is it really that good? I'm completely confused and now even more interested in seeing it for myself. The first trailer looked great, so I can say that I'm intrigued based on what I've seen so far. Being a very optimistic moviegoer, I'm just hoping that it's at least not as "endlessly long" and boring as everyone is making it out to be. I don't trust too many others reviews especially when I have the chance to see it on my own. I guess I just don't want to see Eastwood start to take his downward turn on a film like this. Who is worried about the lack of positive buzz?