8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2008
This long drawn out docu-drama is probably not to everyone's taste, but will satisfy those tired of Hollywood's usual fodder. It is an intriguing account of the search for journalist Daniel Pearl after his abduction in Pakistan in 2002.
Angelina Jolie gives a capable performance as Mariane Pearl as she moves from hope to despair and Irfan Khan is impressive as the police captain leading the investigation. Archie Panjabi also provides good support as an Indian journalist out of place in a hostile Pakistan. The scene where the police captain interviews Sheikh Omar (played by the excellent Aly Khan) provides a small, but important insight into the callousness of religious extremism.
Understated acting combined with natural dialogues give this film an authenticity that ultimately makes for some uncomfortable viewing. There is no political point scoring or moralising and this reinforces the senselessness of Danny Pearl's gruesome murder, which thankfully we are spared from witnessing.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Winterbottom's "A Mighty Heart" could very well be considered the second half of his film a year earlier, "The Road to Guantanamo" (2006). Whilst "Road" dealt with the suffering of prisoners within the US' imfamous Cuban military base, "Heart" takes place on the other side of the world, in Karachi, Pakistan, covering the real life kidnapping of US reporter Daniel Pearl by jihadi militants.
Watching "Heart" is gut wrenching from the get go. Winterbottom's cinematography is gritty, bearing a strong stylistic resembelance to his film "Welcome to Sarajevo", made a decade earlier (1997). From the opening news footage to the grainy shots of Karachi, to the naturalistic performances from the ensemble cast, the whole film feels uncomfortably real and naturalistic. A far cry from Hollywood (and, importantly, fictitious) movies such as "Proof of Life", "Heart" avoids crassness and sheen. Jerky handheld camera shots, married to some excellent location shooting, only serve to emphasise the claustrophobia that this is a true story being told.
But it is Jolie that shines. Whatever glossy trash she might have under her belt, she is a revelation here, playing Mariane Pearl (Daniel's wife) with an understated strength, resolve and dignity. When the closing scenes arive, as they inevitably must, and Jolie uncorks her emotions letting them tumble out in the privacy of her bedroom, it is nothing short of heart breaking.
As such watching "A Mighty Heart" is an intense experience. Traumatic, deeply harrowing and thoroughly grief-stricken from the outset, this film remains however essential viewing. In these post-9/11 days cinema that intelligently explores jihadism and the "War on Terror" have a special place of importance, and this is maybe where "Heart" succeeds the most: it is both political and personal; a true story that teaches us. And, indeed, the fact that the shadow of Guantanamo stands long and hard over this film (though mentioned only in passing in the script itself) should cause those of us in the West to consider what we really believe about kidnapping, torture, and people.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2008
A truly perceptive insight into the suffering generated by such atrocious acts. Very well worth watching and a classic in many ways because of the accuracy of its depiction and the credibility of the characters and quality of the screenplay.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The story of Mariane Pearl, a journalist, whose husband Daniel Pearl also a journalist, whilst doing some research in Pakistan he was kidnapped and brutally executed, was not new to me but the way this film told the story was.
Michael Winterbottom directs events in a quasi-documentary style which makes it all the more real. Within minutes of the film opening you forget all the celebrity Angelina Jolie generates and just concentrate on her terrifically real performance as the widow in such extraordinary circumstances.
The film flicks from Mariane to the investigators and to Danny in the events preceding his death. When Danny dies it is handled in such an emotional and sensitive way. Its hard to remember another true to life story that generates the same amount of exhaustive emotional effort on the viewers part.
Brilliant performances and a harrowingly real this film should not be missed by any film fans all over.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2010
Since the release of `24 hour Party People' back in 2002, Michael Winterbottom has firmly established himself as one of contemporary cinema's most interesting directors. His knack for experimenting with narrative structure and exposition have become distinguishing features of his work, with `24 Hour Party People' and 2006's `A Cock and Bull Story' each receiving great critical acclaim for their unique, innovative approach. Both of these films, however, were low budget affairs, built primarily around a cast of mostly British actors from television or other low budget releases.
For this reason, it may have come as a surprise to many when it was announced that Winterbottom would be directing Angelina Jolie in 2007's `A Mighty Heart'. The coming together of a Hollywood A lister of Jolie's stature, with the low-key, independent style of Winterbottom would surely be destined to fail. Thankfully, any doubts there may have been regarding such a pairing are immediately shattered, in what must surely be considered career bests for both Winterbottom and Jolie. Telling the tragic story of the kidnap and murder of American journalist Danny Pearl at the hand of a group of terrorists in Pakistan, `A Mighty Heart' details the investigation and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to rescue Danny from his captors.
As opposed to Winterbottom's previous work, the film's narrative structure is played out in a linear fashion, possessing a documentary style that serves to make the unfolding tragedy feel all the more real. In many ways `A Mighty Heart' treads a very thin line to absolute perfection, never once crossing over into melodrama or running into the political pitfalls that could so easily tarnish a film of its kind. An achievement clearly beyond the reach of so many post 9/11 political films. Take for example Gavin Hood's abysmal `Rendition' (2007), a film which took potentially interesting subject matter, only to set about pissing all over it with a stream of contrived, insincere nonsense and dumbed-down, Hollywood plot devices, with no concern for developing its central characters. It is precisely here that `A Mighty Heart' succeeds, making no attempt at preaching to its audience and focussing solely on the relationships between its key characters as they each experience the series of appalling events.
Through her portrayal of Mariane Pearl, Danny's wife, Jolie really demonstrates her ability as one of Hollywood's finest talents, giving an astonishingly powerful performance. Throughout the film, as the police are conducting their search for her kidnapped husband, Jolie's depiction of Mariane is both dignified and graceful, beautifully emphasising the remarkable strength of the real-life Mariane Pearl. By never allowing her performance to veer into melodrama during the search for Danny, the scene in which she is finally told of his death is made all the more harrowing and painful to watch, as we see her finally crumble under the weight of the ordeal she has been through, in a sequence that is both unremitting and overwhelming in its realism. What makes this scene particularly heart-wrenching is the air of inevitability in the lead up towards it, as we know from the start that this moment will eventually arrive, making it doubly distressing when it does.
In a film that could so easily have resulted in leaving its audience with a sense of anger or hatred, the predominant tone of `A Mighty Heart' is one of hope. Through the terrible loss of her husband, Mariane appears unmoved and even more determined that racial and religious relations can only be resolved through maintaining a dialogue with one another, as opposed to violence and terror. A film of rare subtlety and unflinching tragedy, `A Mighty Heart' is a brilliantly understated accomplishment from Winterbottom, further cementing his status as one of Britain's most exciting and versatile directors.
`A Mighty Heart' tells the story of Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002 and is based on the memoirs of his wife, Mariane. This film starts off by being quiet flat and without tension and whilst the story is interesting, I didn't find myself completely engaged with it. That is until the last twenty minutes which are suffused with real, raw emotion and Jolie manages to show the dam bursting in Mariane with power and intensity. For the duration of the ordeal Mariane managed to keep calm and almost detached from the pain she was suffering as she tried to find her husband and yet at the end she releases it all in a painful rush that can't fail to affect you. There is minimal soundtrack to this film which gives it a pared back feel, but also didn't heighten any scenes of tension or upset. This is interesting to see the politics behind the kidnapping and how various government agencies worked together to try to find Daniel and is especially insightful as it is based on true events. Jolie turns out a good performance, as do the supporting cast and the direction is authentic and gritty (some scenes are shot in locations Daniel actually visited). If you are aware of the back story then this may have more impact and as long as you don't expect a huge Hollywood blockbuster, but a more low key political drama, then you should enjoy this just fine. This is very good, but not truly great.
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