Rated 4.0

Changeling is of unusual interest on a number of accounts—as a Clint Eastwood production, as an Angelina Jolie vehicle, as an L.A. noir period piece, as sidelong psychodrama, as a curiously unstable combination of social protest and tabloid melodrama, etc. The story has a number of angles that can seem both sensationalistic and daringly topical—missing children and kidnapping, an aggrieved single mother, political corruption, a serial killer, social injustice and police misconduct. But for all that is impressive and even urgent in it, Changeling’s storytelling waxes and wanes in oddly uneven fashion. It’s a genuinely intriguing story throughout, but in the hands of Eastwood and screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), it too often adds up to something less than the sum of its parts. The multistrand story and the mixing of genres are among the production’s strong points, initially, but the wavering tones of individual scenes and of much of the acting undermine the film’s larger potentials. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated R