In a surprisingly scathing pan of Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, New Republic senior editor Christopher Orr has called it “not merely a contender for the worst film of the year, but a contender for the worst domestic tragedy, the worst conspiracy thriller, the worst serial killer flick, and the worst courtroom drama. It is that rare movie which, long after you think it’s exhausted the possibilities, keeps discovering new ways to fail.”
Except it’s very well handled, all of a piece, believably “period,” an “Eastwood film,” a nicely grounded cruise-a-long. You can feel the hand of a guy who knows how to do this, even if he’s not exactly at the peak of his game in this instance. I felt, in other words, no major discomfort when I saw it last May at the Cannes Film Festival, but I was also convinced that it’s not top-drawer Eastwood. Nobody anywhere thinks that. And yet it’s quite passable. It may be off-balance or under-done or imprecise in this or that way, but it’s never painful.