Reviewed by Anne Dionne —

My favorite grief-themed movie is one which I’ve seen in recent weeks, “Changeling.” The movie is based on a kidnapping and murder case which was uncovered in Los Angeles in 1928.

Clint Eastwood directed this film. The cast includes Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Donovan, Jason Butler Harner, John Malkovich, Michael Kelly, and Amy Ryan.

Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a divorcee, left her 9-year-old son Walter home alone one day. She felt that she had no choice-as a single mom, she was the bread winner. Christine prepared lunch for Walter before leaving for work that morning. After giving him instructions for the day, Christine Collins kissed her son good-bye. She never again saw her son alive or dead.

The grief-stricken mother desperately searches for her son while the story receives nationwide attention. The Los Angeles Police Department is unsuccessful in finding little Walter.

In the meantime, a 12-year-old runaway claiming to be Walter is brought to L.A. from Illinois. A public reunion is staged between Christine and the imposter by the police in an effort to cast a positive light on the police department, which was undergoing public scrutiny for being corrupt and inept.

Christine is appalled and fights to enlighten the police and the public with the truth-that this boy is not her son!  Christine is committed to a psychiatric ward for her refusal to accept the impostor as her son, and for her dogged determination to find her missing child. After being released from the psych ward, Christine files a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department.

Angelina Jolie received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her role in this film, depicting a mother in grief. Every mother who has ever experienced the loss of a child knows that nothing–not another child, nor anything else–can ever replace the child who is gone.  Angelina Jolie nailed it!

Anne Dionne has been actively involved with The Compassionate Friends (TCF) organization since the death of her son, Michael, in 2001. She currently serves as Coordinator of TCF Online Support Community.

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Anne Dionne

Anne Dionne’s world was turned upside down on May 5, 2001, when her 19-year-old son whom she adored was killed in a car accident. Since that day, Anne’s mission is to choose to live every day to the fullest and to appreciate the gifts each day has to offer. Through Anne’s involvement with The Compassionate Friends, she is a former Coordinator for the Online Support Community. She also was a workshop presenter for an annual conference of The Compassionate Friends. Anne also co-authored the book “Every Step of the Way: How Four Mothers Coped with Child Loss.” Anne resides in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, with her husband, Steve. They have one adult daughter, Kelly, and two adorable grandpugs! Anne is a registered nurse and is employed as an Embedded Care Coordinator for a family practice in her area. Anne continues to share her personal story of loss and hope with various church groups and local communities through writing and public speaking. It is in reaching out to help others that Anne finds healing and recovery through her own grief journey. Anne was a guest on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” talking about “How Four Mothers Cope with Loss.” To hear Anne being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, go to the following link:

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