Thursday, May 21, 2009
What would you do if your only child went missing? Now, what would it be like if the authorities returned a random child to you and told you that child was your missing issue? And when you object to it all, the police simply tell you you’re crazy. Well, this did happen in 1928 to a woman named Christine Collins and her story serves as the basis of this 2008 Clint Eastwood drama. The LAPD were getting terrible press when suddenly a drifter claimed to have found the missing Collins boy. The police jumped at the opportunity to get some good press as the saviors of this poor mother and happily reunited her with this boy. Problem is, the boy was full of it and only wanted to get out to LA to meet his favorite movie star, but when Ms. Collins tried to convince the police of their mistake they simply dismissed her. This is part of where the movie begins to note the view of women at the time as volatile, emotional child bearers who really shouldn’t be causing a ruckus. This one does, however, and fights back by going to the press about the police’ treatment of her. The LAPD’s response? They locked her up in a mental institution and smeared her in the press as abandoning her ‘son.’ Meanwhile, who knows what is happening to her actual son Walter. This movie does everything it ought to. The entire time you just want to scream at these manipulative, inconsiderate a-holes. The whole time you just want to run onto the screen and help this single mother who lives in a time that could give a crap about single mothers. Eastwood plays this flick like a haunting singular minor chord on a violin. It is tense and maddening. Jolie is totally natural and simply great. The production design of James Murakami is detailed and fantastic. And the cinematography of Tom Stern uses Los Angeles like a paintbrush, framing every shot like an old time Hollywood photo. And of course Eastwood brings it all together very very well. It’s a tough story to hear and it’s not easy to watch, but damn is it worth if you can swallow it. It’s a great story on many levels and the fact that it’s true just makes it all the more amazing. What can I say? Absolute power corrupts absolutely.