A Mighty Heart Reviews
Most of the film is an awful mess, with a clumsy direction and a very normal screenplay.
Angelina Jolie handled well her French accent, but her performance was not that exceptional.
The emotional aspect of the movie is not enough exploited and when it is, I just wanted to shut off the TV.
Really, I didn't like this movie and I knew I wouldn't. I know it's an important movie and we all should watch it. I'm glad I finally did, but it still didn't impress me a bit.
Jolie is stoic for the most part, which makes her gutteral breakdown all the more effective. The shrieks and sobs and wails seem so real that I almost felt embarassed to be a witness to it (it should have been private).
The film does an admirable job of conveying the claustrophobia and chaotic maismos of a major Pakistani city, as well as the almost desperation of the Pakistani police and intelligence who take it as a personal affront against them and an insult against the Pakistani people that an American journalist would be abducted on their watch. I was saddened by THEIR mighty heart, as they knew that public opinion on their entire race and culture was going to take another hit.
In the end, it was their pride that hit home more than anything else. As this is a docudrama, too much film was spent on minor charactors who really had nothing to contribute (the Wall Street Journal editors who ended up in Pakistan, for example). In all, the narrative could have been tighter and the time could have been better spent making the links of the investigation a bit more clear - it seemed like all the charactors knew exactly what was going on and who was linked to who - but a bit more clarity would have certainly helped.
Anyone who has traveled in South Asia will find the setting familiar. Location shots pepper the plot line in order to remind us that "we're not in Kansas anymore." The crush of traffic, architecture, vegetation, local dress are visually stunning - not necessarily pretty, but beautiful in their own way. The use of hand held cameras and tight shots is very effective in conveying mood. Angelina Jolie is wonderful, but I'm not sure the performance is Oscar worthy. I guess that's contingent on how many strong female roles come along this year.
What is most interesting about the film is the way it shows us the world today, the world of terrorism, and how a handful of discontent with computers and cell phones can be tremendously disruptive.
I guess the big challenge in making this movie was creating a suspenseful, entertaining story even though everyone already knows the ending. I guess it succeeded. It at least held my attention, though I wasn't exactly shitting myself in anticipation for the 900th phone call the characters issue or receive.
It was kind of funny seeing ol' Angie in this after I watched Hackers yesterday. Humble beginnings.
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Archie Panjabi, Alyy Khan
I will say this again, as I always do in reviews for films like this....I am not politically minded, nor am I someone who ever followed worldwide events such as this, it is a personal choice, nothing hateful. Instead, I saw this film as a film, not to judge how accurate anything is.
The story follows the tragic, true accounts of Mariane Pearl, a French freelance journalist who is in Pakastan with husband Daniel Pearl, who is a Wall Street journalist who is covering different aspects of the war on terrorism. When Daniel leaves for a final meeting, he never returns and Mariane faces a major task of trying to find him. One thing I found to be a high point was the fact that Michael Winterbottom and John Orloff never delve into the accounts of why things happened (although some elements confused me as I did not follow any of these events), instead, they tell the story from Mariane's point of view (whihc is obvious, being adapted from her novel). Michael Winterbottom takes his hand held style into this film and it works out to be a very strong point. Shot documentary style, it is shot very up close and personal, putting us right in the middle of all this and it is very intense and uncomfortable to watch at times. Although I found the film to be slightly unfocused on an emotional level, what you do see of it comes from Angelina Jolie's performance. She is someone who showed acting potential in such films as Girl, Interrupted, she hasn't exactly picked roles that show it since then. In a very demanding role, she is an unexpected choice and without going into any race related issues, she delivers a very commanding, powerful and gripping performance, where a major turning point for her involves a scene near the end of the film when she hears news of her husband, the scene holds a large emotional core thanks to Angelina and it was really difficult to watch.
It is, in one sentence, very compelling filmmaking. Brilliantly shot and with compelling storytelling....and a performance from Angelina that deserves recognition from the Academy, it is a film sure to stay with you when you leave the theater.
Although you know what happens in the movie (from hearing about Daniel Pearl on the news, etc.) you still feel surprised and you still find yourself at the edge of your seat as the story unravels.
Jolie delivers one of the best performances of her career in this beautifully executed film (no pun intended.) She shines where she should shine in a brilliant turn as a wife stuck in a foreign land with a problem that no wife should have to face.
I'll be shocked if this performance doesn't earn her another Oscar nomination--this time for Best Actress.
The film itself, Jolie not withstanding, is also a high quality piece in all respects. Its script is magnificent and the directions (from its tender moments of subtle pans; to the turbulent grittiness of its shaky trills) the movie is great to watch as well. There's never a dull moment.
Watch for Jolie's breakdown scene. It is truly harrowing and will make that evanescent lump in your throat lodge itself there for the rest of the movie.
[font=Century Gothic]Based on the book by Mariane Pearl, "A Mighty Heart" is a taut political thriller that works on multiple layers, thanks to Michael Winterbottom's skill as a director. First, this is a deeply romantic love story about two people from two different backgrounds and two different religions uniting for a common passion.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Secondly, this is a thorough examination of journalism in this day and age.(Especially take notice of the press coverage of the Pearls' ordeal.) Daniel and Mariane are in Pakistan to cover the American invasion of Afghanistan, but stay after the other journalists have left because the story of terrorism is still out there.(Also, the Pearls stay in a friend's house while the other journalists are holed up at the Sheraton.) On the day of Daniel's abduction, they were planning on leaving for air-conditioned Dubai. They are courageous but not foolhardy. [/font]
[font=Century Gothic]I think it was a huge risk in casting Angelina Jolie, a movie star who has done little of interest in her career, in the lead, but here she pulls off an emotionally resonant performance admirably. A movie star turn would have killed the movie, since with Michael Winterbottom's guerrilla style of filmmaking, the acting has to be as natural as possible.[/font]