Shocker! Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie Make Oscar-Bait Drama Everybody Loves

Ho-hum. Clint Eastwood went to Cannes and all he got were more late-career raves, award mentions, his star Angelina Jolie on his arm and perhaps the most meta title switcheroo in Hollywood history: The Exchange (née Changeling) has all kinds of fans at the festival, where the child-disappearance drama premieres today in competition and already has Variety's Todd McCarthy running back at his hotel room to change his pants:


The intercutting of two heavyweight proceedings, a murder trial and a landmark City Hall hearing, provide the story's dramatic crescendo, although even greater tension stems from what comes thereafter. In the end, Changeling joins the likes of Chinatown and L.A. Confidential as a sorrowful critique of the city's political culture.
A dozen filmmakers could have taken a dozen different approaches to the same material — sensationalistic, melodramatic, expose-minded, a kid's or killer's p.o.v., and so on. Perhaps the best way to describe Eastwood's approach is that he's extremely attentive — to the central elements of the story, to be sure (with its echoes of A Perfect World), but also to the fluidity between the private and the public, the arbitrariness of life and death, the distinct ways different people view the same thing, the destructive behavior of some adults toward children and the quality of life in California around the time he was born.

McCarthy has robust praise for Jolie as well, comparing her performance as a mother looking for her son to that of A Mighty Heart, except The Exchange "hits home more directly due to the lack of affectation — no accent, frizzed hair or darkened complexion, and no attempt to consciously rein in emotion." Meanwhile, a "British journalist" at the festival apparently told Jeffrey Wells "there's not a weak point in the entire film" and that Eastwood should be on the short list for the fest's Best Director prize. (With Mystic River Oscar-winner Sean Penn heading the jury, we'd say it's a near-lock.)

Anyway, the film opens Stateside in November but is likely to screen in the Toronto and New York film festivals en route to hogging four months of typically profuse Eastwoodian accolades and Oscar hype. Mix in another Space Cowboys, Clint — remind us you're human. Or, better yet, someone send a heads-up about the backlash. It's coming.

[Photo: Getty Images]