Clint Eastwood’s Changeling screens at Cannes

CANNES: Five years after premiering Mystic River at the Festival de Cannes, Clint Eastwood returns to competition with Changeling, a thriller which takes place in the late 1920s in a working-class suburb of Los Angeles.

Angelina Jolie stars as Christine Collins, a mother whose son Walter mysteriously disappears one day. After an intensive search effort lasting several months, a nine-year-old boy who says he is Walter is returned to her. Unfortunately, the boy is not her son. Christine, accused of being delusional and irresponsible, allies herself with a minister (played by John Malkovich). Together, they continue investigating the matter, eventually implicating the city’s legal officials.

Based on a true story, the screenplay written by Joe Michael Straczynski immediately grabbed the attention of producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, as well as that of director Clint Eastwood.

"I took it with me on a trip to Berlin," recalls Eastwood. "On the way back on the plane, I read it and I liked it a lot. As soon as I got in, I called Brian and Ron and said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do this.’ And they said, ‘Angelina Jolie liked the script and wants to do this.’ I said, ‘She’d be great. I like her work a lot.’ And that’s how it came about – very quick and simple."

Eastwood added, "Angelina Jolie is unique. She reminds me of a lot of the actresses from the Golden Age of movies in the 40s – Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Susan Hayward, all of them. They were all very distinctive, and they all had a lot of presence. She’s a tremendous actress."

Jury President in 1994 and also present in Cannes for the out-of-competition presentation of Absolute Power in 1997; in Competition for Pale Rider in 1985; Bird in 1988 (which won the Commission Supérieure Technique Grand Prize), and White Hunter Black Heart in 1990, Clint Eastwood has a reputation for speed and efficiency on the set. He deliberately cuts down on rehearsal times to preserve the spontaneity and authenticity of the acting, and rarely does several takes. He arrived at this approach from his own preferences as an actor.