A Mighty Heart Michael Winterbottom

A Mighty Heart Michael Winterbottom

Treating the true story of journalist Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder like a documentary seems an appropriate choice by director Michael Winterbottom. Basically barren of any cinematic flash, the events surrounding Daniel’s capture and their affect on those close to him are reported on most sombrely. The camera’s purpose in this film appears to be journalistic, dispassionately disseminating information. As Winterbottom achieves transparency of style in his filmmaking, Angelina Jolie also puts in a valiant effort at abandoning her familiar quirks to inhabit the central role of Mariane Pearl, the author of the script’s source material. The viewer follows Daniel to his meeting with a suspected terrorist, then is promptly left with Mariane as she experiences the mounting fear of her husband going from being missing to being held hostage by religious extremists. Angelina portrays Mariane with such great poise and control under these horrifying circumstances that, when she is finally forced to crumble, if only for a few moments, the anguish in her emotional release is so palpable it’s almost overwhelming. The supporting cast is mostly excellent, particularly Irrfan Khan as the police captain in charge of investigating Daniel’s abduction, providing a luminous counterpoint of spiritual honour to the zealous terror perpetrated in the name of religion by the kidnappers. A "making of” special feature has the usual abundance of film clips and interviews with the director and cast. Apparently Dan Futterman had a lot of personal interaction with Pearl’s family and friends before playing him. Odd, considering his flat, emotionless performance is the film’s weakest link, failing to establish an emotional connection between Pearl and the audience. Luckily, a PSA by the Pearl Foundation preceding the movie does more to establish Daniel’s humanitarian nature and gain the viewer’s sympathy. Also included is an insightful history of the Committee to Protect Journalists. (Paramount)