Review: A Mighty Heart
Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Archie Panjabi
PLOT: A film based on a book written by journalist Mariane Pearl,
outlining her courageous search, struggle and life during the
kidnapping and execution of during her journalist husband’s tragic
disappearance and death.
CRITIQUE: Although the film is about the struggle of two honest journalists on a mission to uncover the truth behind the ‘shoe bomber’, I think Winterbottom doesn’t stray from capturing the essence of the film and the message Mariane intended on relaying. There are several reasons why I was truly touched by and enjoyed the film, the first being its pace. The story’s suspense and drama unfolded at a steady pace, giving us plenty of excitement and action to keep us guessing ‘til the end. Since this is based on an actual news story whose sad fate we are well aware of, I still found myself hoping and wishing that the story would someone take a magical detour to a different conclusion.
Another reason I liked the film was that it refrained from
using unnecessary, grotesque violence to over glamorize and
sensationalize the story. We are familiar with the types of torture
and brutality bestowed upon innocent journalists imprisoned and
kidnapped during a time of war but we need not be visually reminded
of the stomach turning extremities. It’s bad enough that we’re
constantly flashed with heartbreaking images of torture in prison
camps by television news. Obviously, Mrs. Pearl had very different
intentions with this educational and inspirational book.
Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Mariane Pearl was very impressive. Despite the validity and clarity of her accent, I was moved by her performance and struggle to remain calm and rational during a time of calamity. Although it was apparent that terrorist groups kidnapped Danny Pearl played by Dan Futterman, Mariane’s maturity and impartiality in dealing with the tragedy was moving and inspiring. The film could very easily have turned into a political piece but its success was contingent upon her display of diplomacy and dedication to honor journalism, not sensationalism.
An incredibly tear jerking and striking moment was
Mariane’s reaction in the scene where she received the fateful
news. Jolie’s characterization was so powerful and resonant it
continued to linger in my mind long after the film’s end. I’m
sure boyfriend and producer Brad Pitt along with the real life Mrs.
Pearl were as proud and afflicted as I was with her performance and
honest depiction of the events. Rather
than becoming consumed with hatred and bitterness, it was remarkable
to see how a woman like Pearl survived and rose above a major
paralyzing and devastating blow to her life. All in all, I believe
Winterbottom did a fine job in directing an effective and
significant film while providing drama, suspense and action.