Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie, Changeling follows Christine Collins (Jolie), a mother whose nine-year-old son vanishes one afternoon and is replaced five months later by a stranger the police want her to accept as her own child. Unwilling to quietly acquiesce, Collins creates a tsunami of change in Los Angeles, demanding accountability and sanctions against the people once trusted to protect and serve.

Based on the infamous Wineville Chicken Coup Murders in the late 1920s, where Gordon Stewart Northcott molested, tortured, killed and dismembered 20 or more young boys on his rural farm before his nephew confessed to police, the film’s “based on a true story” angle is harrowingly haunting. But it’s not the film’s source material or pedigree that will earn accolades, it’s Jolie’s gut-ripping, heart thrashing portrayal of a woman forced to battle a corrupt police department, withstand wrongful imprisonment in a psychiatric ward and persevere unyieldingly in the hopes of finding her lost son.

Eastwood’s ability to create a sense of time, space and atmosphere is uncanny, transporting the audience to Los Angeles in 1928. Though lacking a certain restraint, Changeling is emotionally gripping, wielding a depth of tension, anguish and longing so tangible, it makes you want to come out of your skin.

Grade: B+

Changeling is currently in theaters.