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Review: A Mighty Heart

Angelina Jolie embraces her role of an anguished woman with earnestness, dominating nearly every scene, writes Rashid Irani.
Hindustan Times | By Rashid Irani, Mumbai
UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2007 07:21 PM IST

A Mighty Heart
Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman
Direction : Michael Winterbottom
Rating: ***1/2

It could easily have turned into another vanity project for a celebrity star. Creditably, however, Angelina Jolie embraces her role of an anguished woman with earnestness. Dominating nearly every scene, her bravura performance is the heart and soul of this riveting docudrama.

The prolific British director Winterbottom (Welcome to Sarajevo, The Road to Guantanamo) recounts the tragic, true-life story of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Futterman). Presented primarily from the perspective of his then-pregnant wife (Jolie), A Mighty Heart is based on her published memoir.

The Jewish-American Daniel, on assignment in Pakistan in early 2002, was abducted by militants. The screenplay revolves essentially around the frantic efforts of the Pakistani police and the FBI to track down the kidnappers and rescue the journo.

Although we already know Daniel’s fate---he was beheaded, with the grisly execution documented on tape---the narrative still grips us with its frantic editing patterns and a restless, quasi-documentary approach. Marcel Zyskind’s hand-held, digital-video camerawork lends a certain heat-of-the moment immediacy to the proceedings.

Occasionally, the dramedy does lose momentum during the flashbacks to the couple’s happier past and the scenes of the rescue team constantly scanning e-mails and flow-charts.

Throughout her ordeal Mariane, Pearl’s wife, a reporter for French public radio, displays striking fortitude. Opting for dialogue and compassion over fear mongering and hate, hers is an appropriate response to one of the most harrowing events of the 9/11 aftermath.

Of the cast, Dan Futterman, and Archie Punjabi as his fellow-journalist, are credible. As the committed local cop heading the investigation, our own Irrfan Khan is outstanding.

As for Jolie, she is more than likely to be acknowledged at the Oscar nominations next year. Meanwhile, be sure to check out this significant slice-of--life movie.

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