1 hour, 43 minutes
R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.
DVD Features: "Journey of Passion: The making of a Mighty Heart"; Public service announcement; Committtee to Protect Journalists.
Angelina Jolie ... Mariane Pearl
Dan Futterman ... Daniel Pearl
Archie Panjabi ... Asra Q. Nomani
Mohammed Afzal ... Shabir
Denis O'Hare ... John Bussey
Perrine Moran ... Ruth Pearl
Jeffry Kaplow ... Judea Pearl
Ishaque Ahmed ... Arif
Irfan Khan ... Captain
Will Patton ... Randall Bennett
On January 23, 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl traveled to Pakistan with his pregnant wife, Mariane, researching a story on shoe bomber Richard Reid. He was investigating a possible tie between the “shoe bomber” and Sheikh Gilani, a Pakistani cleric who was known to have been involved with radical Islamic groups. Everyone told Daniel to “meet him in public,” fearing for his life, but fearlessly Pearl left for the meeting. He told Mariane he might be late for dinner. But he never returned. He was brutally murdered after being abducted by jihadists who, in a bitter twist of fate, had nothing to do with the lead he was following. They just saw an opportunity to seize a respected American journalist and torture him until the U.S. government caved in to their demands. Which, of course, never happened.
A Mighty Heart is Mariane Pearl’s account of the five weeks leading up to her husband’s death. It’s based on the memoir she wrote of the experience in hopes that her son, Adam, could get an understanding of the fine man his father was and how much people cared about him.
Director Michael Winterbottom ("Road To Guantanamo") uses his well-crafted, documentary style of filmmaking to put us right there in the middle of the action while keeping tension high. He creates a sense of urgency through his gritty camerawork and location shooting, which complements the powerful script by John Orloff.
The film works surprisingly well as a nail-biting political thriller. Although it’s based on real events that were plastered all over the news five years ago, it seems fresh, and you just may find yourself hoping for a different ending than the one you know is coming.
Much of the film is set within the home of Daniel’s friend and colleague Asra Nomani (Archie Panjabi "The Constant Gardener), which becomes the headquarters for the investigation. There is a real sense of community on display, bringing together friends, government officials (Irrfan Khan "The Namesake"), security specialists (Will Patton "Remember the Titans") and employers (Denis O’Hare "Garden State"), all with the common goal of saving Pearl's life.
Angelina Jolie ("Lara Croft: Tomb Raider") is sensational giving one of the most moving performances of her career as Mariane Pearl, transforming not just her physical appearance but her entire persona. She is barely recognizable as this commanding woman who kept it together and never lost hope during this period of extreme anguish while demonstrating both her strength and sense of optimism. And best of all she plays it beautifully recreating the French/Cuban accent of Mariane Pearl.
The role of Daniel Pearl is played by Dan Futterman ("The Birdcage") who was also the author of the Academy Award nominated screenplay of "Capote." He appears mostly in flashbacks with Mariane. They’re mainly shown in everyday moments, just going about their daily activities and looking at each other with love.
While no film could ever truly capture what they had or the tragic direction their lives would take, "A Mighty Heart" makes a surprisingly effective attempt. After all, not many movies can break your heart, keep your adrenaline racing and remind you of life’s value at the same time.