A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Mostly tame, with words like "damn" and "hell," though the words "son of a bitch" and "f--k" are used in a few instances.
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Products & Purchases
Brands and signage for Pacific Telephone & Telegraph, Bummy's Diner, KGF News Radio, Colgate, and more.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of period-accurate smoking. Some characters are forced to take tranquilizers against their will.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Suspenseful and stirring, Changeling is fine moviemaking in full display. Director Clint Eastwood's light touch is apparent, emphasizing storytelling above all else. And why not? The material is certainly compelling (though some details were changed). Jolie is impeccable as a mother shoved to the brink of sanity. Noticeably de-glammed, her grieving mother almost makes us forget that she's half of a very starry celebrity couple.
And yet: Changeling does suffer, if only for a little bit. While the first two hours pass by swiftly and movingly, the tale goes slack when it chases every last detail to its end. Christine's stay at the psych ward, two parallel court cases, even another mother's luck at finding her own boy -- they're fascinating plot threads, but they ultimately serve to diminish all that came before. Perfect (or near-perfect) movies know when to end; this one, sadly, does not.
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Our Editors Recommend
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