A Mighty Heart (Paramount Vantage, R)

film_mighty_smHow is it that the opening of a film which revisits what millions of Americans were captivated and eventually disturbed by is hardly raising any national conversation at all? Could it be that Jolie's off-camera life is overshadowing the important message and emotions the story is meant to present?

 

 

 

 

A Mighty Heart is a perfect example of when movie stars can detract from a film simply by their connection and proximity to the production. When a star's off-screen behavior and lifestyle eclipse the impact or point of the film, it is time to rethink the casting for the sake of the movie. How can a film successfully convey its message if the actors personal lives take center stage over the story?

film_mighty

Based on the powerful memoir of the same name by Mariane Pearl, the movie tells the story of Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman), a Jewish-American journalist for the Wall Street Journal who went to Pakistan to investigate Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," who had threatened the lives of hundreds. After being promised a meeting with a hard-to-find contact in Karachi, Pearl was kidnapped by men who believed he was working with the CIA.

Frantic and five months pregnant, his wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie) begins appealing to every connection and acquaintance she has made in order to find Daniel and bring him home safely. Her home becomes the headquarters for an investigation involving both Karachi and American officials who begin sniffing out every lead and exhausting every possibility in their search for Daniel.

Directed by Michael Winterbottom, the film is chaotic, hard to follow in places and very jumbled, exactly how it must have been for the family and friends who were part of the horrific ordeal. Winterbottom keeps the audience as much in the dark as the characters are. As an audience, we expect to see Daniel's side of the story and what he went through with the kidnappers, but the film never speculates as to what happened. Taking a very strict journalistic style, the film only presents what is known as fact, never deviating from the story it wants to tell.

How is it, then, that the opening of a film which revisits what millions of Americans were captivated and eventually disturbed by is hardly raising any national conversation at all? Could it be that Jolie's off-camera life is overshadowing the important message and emotions the story is meant to present? The only press coverage A Mighty Heart has received since its opening is Jolie's publicist asking the press not to ask personal questions on the red carpet. There are a few rumblings on the Internet expressing incredulity at allowing Jolie to play a woman who is actually black. "How is that fair?" many are asking. Bloggers and message boards are abuzz with whether the producers made the right casting choice. Wait, the production company, Plan B, is owned by Brad Pitt. Strange.

The film is powerful and the performances are strong and convincing, from both Jolie and the supporting actors. The script is successful in staying true to the book in its tone and message. However, most of these wonderful attributes will be overlooked by detractors who are dissuaded by the assumed political tone of the movie or overexposure of its star. | Matt Newlin

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply