A Mighty Heart is one of those movies that is extremely well done and deserving of a good review yet it is one of those movies that you just wouldn’t recommend anyone watch. The biggest downfall of A Mighty Heart is actually the plotline’s greatest strength, a statement that will make more sense as you read on, and Angelina Jolie is virtually guaranteed an Oscar nomination for her performance.
Based on a true story Jolie portrays Mariane Pearl, wife of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who is in Karachi, Pakistan investigating a story in relation to the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. In the process he is kidnapped and his brutal beheading is the one that so many of you may or may not have seen, but definitely heard of online. In regards to that I suggest you don’t do a Google search on the matter unless you want to see some gruesome and disturbing images.
Angelina Jolie is pitch perfect in this film as Mariane Pearl and as the title would suggest this is a woman with stamina. She is caught in the face of turmoil and comes out of it as if it was nothing more than a fact of life that had to be dealt with head on. This is actually where the movie loses its audience as the majority of us don’t really have anything to connect to. Mariane Pearl had such “a mighty heart” that her ability to stay cool under pressure is almost disorienting. You know her feelings are there because she is human, but it never shows. She stands strong and bears the burden, and Jolie hits each note perfectly but it is a role that never really dregs up the human emotion needed for an audience to grasp onto.
However, in terms of performances there is more than Jolie to focus on here. Dan Futterman is very good as Daniel Pearl and even better yet is Archie Panjabi as Mariane’s friend Asra. Panjabi has been seen in smaller roles in such films as A Good Year and The Constant Gardener, but here she is given a more meaty role, even if it is a supporting one, and she adds a lot to the performance, occasionally acting as the emotional meter that is missing in other areas.
Don’t get me wrong, as I said, Jolie is perfect in this movie and Mariane Pearl is an extraordinary woman considering what she went through, but this is just a story that in movie form hurts itself with how strong she actually is, it removes the human element when the lead character is not as affected as the majority of the audience would be in a similar situation. Outside of her “Oscar moment” (you’ll know it if you see it) in this film Jolie offers up Pearl as one of the emotionally controlled people alive. As audience members we are used to grasping onto the emotions of our characters and when Mariane is faced with an ordeal such as the kidnapping of her own husband and she is as cool as the other side of the pillow it is hard to find the connection that will take you deeper into the story.
A Mighty Heart is certainly a well made film, a well acted film and a movie that pretty much secures Michael Winterbottom as one of our better directors, but it is a film that I came out of feeling rather neutral on the whole situation and based on what I just saw, and what the characters went through, I can’t help but thinking I should be feeling something else.