The constant media spotlight on Angelina Jolie’s private life means her acting talents often take a backseat – but with this stunning performance she should be making headlines for all the right reasons.

In Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood, Ms Jolie puts in an Oscar-worthy performance which is moving without being melodramatic – in fact her subtlety and naturalness are her strengths in this fascinating tale based on real events.

Set in Los Angeles in 1928, Jolie plays single working mum Christine Collins whose life is torn apart when her only son Walter goes missing.

Five harrowing months later the police tell her Walter has been found but when the pair are reunited Christine insists the boy is not her son.

Determined to find Walter she embarks on a quest to find out the truth but hits a brick wall in the shape of the LAPD who will stop at nothing to silence her.

Director Eastwood paints a bleak portrait of a police department which is rotton to the core. All the LAPD cares about is PR stunts and getting positive stories in the press – regardless of the consequences.

Christine makes an ally in Reverend Gustav Briegleb – brilliantly played by John Malkovich – who is determinded to expose the corrupt police force who think nothing of taking back-handers, profiting from drug deals or gunning down criminals who threaten their supremacy.

With Christine on the verge of exposing the cover-up over her son’s disappearance, the cops get her locked up in a lunatic asylum where she discovers she is not the only woman who has been silenced in this way.

The asylum scenes are harrowing and provide a vivid picture of life inside such an institution – particularly for those who were not mentally ill but had just challenged the system in some way.

Changeling is beautifully shot and acted by a brilliant cast who make this harrowing tale truly gripping.

Without giving too much away, Eddie Alderson gives an awesomely heart-breaking performance as a boy confessing to his part in the disappearance of missing youngsters. And Jason Butler Harner is truly chilling as his uncle Gordon Northcott who has dark secrets of his own.