A Superb Period Drama, 12 November 2009

Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A stunning drama, based on true events, which swallows up the 2 hour 20 minute running time.Director Clint Eastwood is now building up a body of work which surely already establishes him as amongst the finest Directorial talents of his generation.

The tale is simple enough, that of an ordinary woman whose son goes missing, and her quest to be reunited with him.Angelina Jolie plays the leading role as crusading mother Christine Collins. Previously her parts have been dominated, and no doubt won, by her beauty. Here Eastwood ekes out a career defining acting performance in which her looks are conspicuously dressed and toned down, resulting in the unleashing of a very fine acting performance.

But hers is not the only stellar performance.Jeffrey Donovan is unremittingly sly and evil as corrupt Captain Jones. Michael Kelly is superb as Detective Ybarra who stumbles across the gruesome activities at a remote farmhouse, a beacon of decency in a generally dark story.

As a Director, Eastwood could not be further removed from his taciturn, largely one-dimensional but well crafted acting roles and image .His eye for 1920’s detail in Los Angeles is both acute,and sumptuous.But it is his grasp of character and story which set him apart. Every part is believable and this enables him to win over the viewer to the story intellectually, and emotionally.

Sub-plots of Police corruption, the role of women in 1920’s American Society and contemporary Mental Health Care are starkly, awkwardly, observed, but not overplayed. The content, and intensity of performance makes this sometimes uncomfortable to watch, but what unfolds is never less than compelling.

A modern classic, where story, dialogue, performance and setting combine to produce cinematic magic.

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