A Mighty Heart review by Juli Yuli

Mighty Heart

Despite all the hype about Angelina Jolie's performance, A Mighty Heart still took me by surprise. Not so much for her performance, but for the way this story was crafted.

The film describes recent real-life events: the disappearance of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in January 2002 and the month-long search for him afterwards. The film takes place in Karachi, a huge and busy metropolis in Pakistan. The central character and narrator in the film is Daniel's wife Marianne Pearl, played by Angelina Jolie. A journalist herself, she came with Daniel to Pakistan to complete several assignments, despite being 5 months pregnant. Daniel and Marianne plan to leave the next day, but Daniel has one last interview to complete and disappears shortly after he leaves for that last interview.

The rest of the film is like a giant suspense puzzle, with different characters appearing and disappearing, and many different sources trying to find Daniel. The circumstances of the disappearance and the resulting search raise the same question over and over: "Who do you trust?" As the search goes on and more and more clues are found, the film keeps showing the chaotic city life in Kharachi. How is it possible to find anyone in such chaos? Every place they search for suspects is just so crazy - one can hide there for months and never be found.

The film has a very real, almost documentary feel to it. In one of the interviews, Jolie described that director Michael Winterbottom had a completely unstructured style. He would constantly follow and film her and other actors. She said she could not go to the bathroom without being filmed. It is probably for that reason that the film has such a natural, almost documentary feel to it.

The entire film is narrated in a calm and content voice. And Marianne's calmness during the entire film almost drives you mad. This woman's husband was taken hostage by Al Queda, how is she not losing it?! At times you even forget that she is 5-6 months pregnant, because she is so calm, collected, and focused. During several moments in the film, you think - she will now break down, but she does not. Weeks go by, and she does not.

She sums up her attitude in the CNN interview she did about a week after kidnapping: "I can't be desparate. I believe if I stop creating dialogue, I will stop believing in everything else. I can't do that, I am pregnant."

Once she learned Danny's fate, however, it's raw. Jolie's Marianne screams like a wounded beast. It is a piercing scream, a scream that has been held back for too long.

Jolie did true justice to the real Marianne Pearl with her performance. I have seen interviews with Marianne Pearl, and I can imagine that she would be as strong and collected as Jolie portrayed her.

Even after the tragedy strikes, Marianne shines spotlight away from her. She tells in another interview: "Danny was killed this month. So were 10 other Pakistanis by terrorists."

One of the most touching scenes in the film is the last dinner everyone has together. These strangers that became so close together during the search, are really sad. And then Marianne, who should be the saddest, thanks them for all of their efforts, and tells them "You did not fail. Let's eat." This is the woman whose husband just tragically died and who is 6 months pregnant...

One of the interesting relationships in the film is between Marianne and the Pakistani police chief Javed Habib, who leads the search. Throughout the movie, Marianne is shown to have great respect for the captain. He is the best example of what a Muslim should be, and a contrast to the fanatical Muslim terrorists that kidnapped Daniel. At some point in the film she trusted him enough to share that Danny is Jewish.

The media is shown in the film as a completely hurtful institution. They hurt the search, they announce that Daniel Pearl is dead with any confirmation, then they announce his body has been dumped in one of Karachi's cemeteries. It's a little ironic that the film is about journalists, but the same journalists have potentially worsened Pearl's situation.

I liked the film because it was very emotional, but at the same time, the emotions were so understated. It was real portrayal of a real tragedy. The DVD includes several public announcements about journalist's causes and the Daniel Pearl foundation, as well as "The Making of A Might Heart" feature.

7 out of 10 Jackasses
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