This is a long, engrossing but not totally together film. I saw the film, discussed it with Shirley and then read the usual reviews. I beg to differ.
Eastwood tries too hard to set the patina of the era: old shoes, cloche hats, old trolley, old cars parked everywhere ... okay okay ... I got that! But he does tell a spare tale: insisting that we run with it if it irks us. The tone and the palette are both wonderfully restrained.
The script was cloying to begin with: the baddies too black; the goodie too white. It was only with the introduction of the "nutter" that the script was of sufficient quality not to interrupt my enjoyment. However, the hanging scene was gratuitous. Was Eastwood trying to say that the gathered parents were seeking revenge? They weren't. Was he trying to say that state-sanctioned murder does not salve? The parents just wanted to know what happened to their boys. They wanted closure.
Now ... Jolie. I had to talk Shirley into going to see this: Jolie has been nominated; Eastwood made M$B. Sure, the Brangelina stuff makes me spew; but Jolie's craft is separate from that. Firstly, she was too gorgeous: the lips and the eyes really pop out. Secondly, she was too strong: there was no fragility, no vulnerability. Thirdly, the mothering was formulaic.
Some of the other acting was brittle, too: especially the young boys, but also the bad-cop. I felt anguish for Malkovich: what a waste of a massive talent, that alone a wavey wig.
So ... disappointing ...