In the years following the 9/11 tragedies, it is incredible to see a Hollywood film pay tasteful tribute to the incredibly touchy-subject of the events in and surrounding the Middle-Eastern/US conflicts. The turnout is either a genuine one devoid of exploitation and told from the heart such as “United 93”, or a tasteless cash-cow with big-name actors in horribly melodramatic situations such as Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center”. “A Mighty Heart”, based on the events surrounding the kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl, thankfully falls into the former category above.
Angelina Jolie plays Daniel Pearl’s wife, Mariane, in a tactfully-crafted and extremely-moving picture who’s central story of a woman’s struggle and love for her husband transcends any political message or element that may be presented. The craftsmanship is strong both in front of the lens and behind, with each respective party truly bringing their A-game to the table. The end result is a powerful-yet-painful tribute to Mariane Pearl and the events that occurred around her that thankfully plays more like a tribute than an exploit.
Jolie pours her heart and soul into the frantic on screen search for Daniel, whom for those who don’t recall the tragic incidents in 2002, was kidnapped by Pakistani radicals and beheaded shortly after. Her performance is incredible, probably the best of the year, and only goes to show that she is one of the greatest actresses of this generation. What with all of her UN work and international charities, you can tell Jolie really wants to make a difference in this world, and choosing to do a film such as this with such a strong message shows me that this is not simply a vanity project for an awards-hopeful actress.
The fact that the audience knows the outcome of the film makes it that much more painful to watch, yet director Michael Winterbottom keeps us intrigued and captivated throughout. The film plays like a political thriller at times, yet the end product simply can’t be treated or viewed as such when watching in the theater. It’s a powerful tribute to hope and love, and the best film of 2007.
“A Mighty Heart” is a film that can best be described as nothing short of phenomenal. It is a gleaming gem amongst today’s Hollywood trash. It’s genuinely refreshing to see a film so smart and aware in the day and age of the sequel and threequel. But, it is a film that is most-importantly told through Michael Winterbottom’s extremely well-crafted portrait of a woman in struggle, and for that we are able to feel her pain. But in the spirit of the film’s intentions, we can truly only imagine her pain, observe, and be moved.
Michael Winterbottom (director) / John Orloff (screenplay), Mariane Pearl (book)
CAST: Dan Futterman … Daniel Pearl
Angelina Jolie … Mariane Pearl
Archie Panjabi … Asra Q. Nomani
Mohammed Afzal … Shabir