A Mighty Heart
- Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl
- Dan Futterman as Daniel Pearl
- Archie Panjabi as Asra Nomani
- Irrfan Khan as Captain Zubair Mahmood
- Will Patton as Randall Bennett
- Denis O’Hare as John Bussey
Based on the true story of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and eventually killed by terrorists in Karachi in 2002, A Mighty Heart focuses on the attempts of his pregnant wife Mariane to secure his release. Directed with a documentary feel by Michael Winterbottom and boasting a powerful performance by Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart is a gripping, tense and poignant account of a woman trying to remain strong in the face of unimaginable shock.
The year is 2002, Daniel Pearl and his wife Mariane, who is also a journalist arrive in Karachi, Pakistan. Daniel is investigating a link to Al-Qaeda and is to meet a powerful sheikh for an interview. It is on the way to this interview that he is kidnapped. When Daniel doesn’t return home, Mariane begins an investigation to find him. Helping her in this tense and desperate investigation are Asra, a co-worker of Daniel’s, a Pakistani security Captain Zubair Mahmood, American agent Randall Bennett and John Bussey, a writer at the Wall Street Journal. Throughout the subsequent investigation, we see how Mariane held on to hope that Daniel would be found and focuses on the inner strength of this woman facing unbearable circumstances. Well-performed and evocatively scored, A Mighty Heart emerges as a searing drama that never sugar-coats or exploits the true story, but instead lets us see the efforts that went into trying to secure Daniel’s release and the unwavering courage of Mariane.
Visually, A Mighty Heart drives to the hard of its subject matter by use of hand-held camerawork and rapid editing. Through this, we as an audience, are thrust into the whirlwind of confusion and uncertainty that engulfs the case and witness as Daniel’s release is attempted by various parties. Although we know the outcome of the story, the film is still unbearably tense as we see the various parts of the against the clock investigation. The overall documentary style of filmmaking adds to the intimacy of the story of Mariane’s courage and shows us the many grim realities of Daniel’s kidnapping.The bustling and winding streets of Karachi become a metaphor for the twisting case and the hardship faced by Mariane as she attempts to remain strong in the face of adversity. Sonically, the movie features an evocative score of Middle Eastern percussion and voices to highlight the setting.
In terms of acting in the picture, everyone delivers. Out of the supporting cast Archie Panjabi and Irrfan Khan are solid as a journalist friend and the security chief attempting to obtain Daniel’s rescue. Will Patton and Denis O’Hare also perform admirably as two other members of this tense investigation. Dan Futterman in the pivotal role of Daniel Pearl is exceptionally cast and credible. But the acting honors in A Mighty Heart have to go to Angelina Jolie. She inhabits the character of Mariane with a subtle intelligence, passion and quiet power. For those who only think of Jolie as a kick-ass babe, watch this movie and witness her moving delivery of a strong woman in a time of unimaginable pain. Even when Jolie isn’t saying anything, she radiates emotion as her hope never dies and her spirit remains strong. For my money, this is one of Angelina Jolie’s best performances in her career. Michael Winterbottom with a documentary style immediacy that shows us the amount of work that went into the case and how it impacted on those closest to Daniel Pearl.
Evocative, tense and searing, A Mighty Heart is an excellent film. Whether seen as a thriller or a drama/biopic, it works either way. Boasting an all round great cast, headed by the powerfully moving performance of Angelina Jolie, it is a true testament to one woman’s strength in the face of the horror around her.