As a director, Clint Eastwood may be most famous for making serious dramas and revisionist westerns, but he started his career with an acclaimed thriller (Play Misty for Me) and he never forgot how to ratchet up tension. Changeling tells the intense true story of Christine Collins, played by an Oscar-nominated Angelina Jolie, whose son goes missing in 1928, only to be returned to her by the police later. The problem is, the child they return to her isn’t Christine’s son, and nobody will believe her.
Christine presents all kinds of bulletproof evidence, like the fact that the new child is shorter than her actual child, only to be told by a corrupt police department absolute nonsense, like the trauma shrunk him. As crazy as that sounds, it all actually happened, and Eastwood’s film chronicles in painstaking, unbearable detail this perfectly sensible woman — whose son is still missing — getting undermined, gaslit and ultimately horrifically abused and institutionalized just because her existence inconveniences men in power. There aren’t many modern thrillers as righteously upsetting as Changeling.