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   Final Film Critique: 
   The Changeling

Jay Stern
   Expected Rating: PG due to adult themes
   Distribution: No Exclusive Distribution
   Budget: $25,000
   Genre: Historical Drama

   Running Time: 82 minutes

   Release Dates:
   Trailer: Click Here

   Review Date:
May 15, 2006
   Reviewed By: Kari Ann Morgan
Final Score:
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The Changeling, directed by Jay Stern, is adapted from a 1622 play by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley.

Beatrice-Johanna is engaged to Alonzo, but can't stand the thought of marrying him, although he is not a bad man. She is instead enamored with Alsemero; De Flores, her father's servant, is desperately in love with Beatrice, despite the fact that she detests him. Knowing of his love for her, Beatrice gets him to kill Alonzo for her, so that she can eventually marry Alsemero. But after it is done, De Flores refuses her offers of money for the murder, and tells her his terms: she will be his lover, or he will reveal her role in the plot. To protect her reputation, Beatrice gives in to him.

This blackmail affair continues after she becomes engaged to Alsemero. In order that her soon-to-be husband does not discover on their wedding night that she is not a virgin, Beatrice convinces Diaphanta, her maidservant, to take her place in disguise. But that night, Diaphanta, enjoying her role, stays too long with Alsemero, thus further endangering the deception. In a panic, Beatrice begs De Flores to do something to save her, to which he arranges an "accident" in which Diaphanta is killed.

Beatrice makes an arrangement
with De Flores for a killing...
...but as she soon discovers, such
deals rarely lead to a happy ending.

By this time, Beatrice has fallen in love with De Flores, because of the lengths he is willing to go to in order to show his love and devotion to her. Alsemero, suspecting that something is amiss, corners them and eventually wrangles a confession out of them. However, before they can be brought to justice, they kill themselves, bringing their cycle of lies and murder to an end.

I will say first of all, that the language is kept true to the original writing period (Shakespearean English), which is not that easy to speak. It's especially difficult to deliver such verbose passages in a way that a modern audience can understand what is going on; since the viewer has to essentially "translate" what's being said, actors must pay special attention to their gestures, inflection, and tone. (For a great example of this, see Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing.) Hats off to the actors for doing a great job with their deliveries, especially Clyde Baldo's portrayal of De Flores. Even if you couldn't catch everything he said specifically, it was easy to understand what he was saying by how he said it. The story is paced in the five-act format typical of the plays of that era, and is broken up nicely in the film by a single simple shot that indicates "Act I", "Act II", etc. This helps make it easier to follow the progression of the plot.

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