A Mighty Heart (R)

Drama 108 June 22, 2007
By Ella Taylor
I can see feeling queasy about a docudrama that reframes the murder of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl as the ordeal of his wife, Mariane — especially as played by Hollywood siren Angelina Jolie in dusky skin, well-tutored French accent, and deeply distracting lips. But Jolie is terrific, and director Michael Winterbottom has made an enormously moving document of the tense days between Pearl’s capture and the news that he was dead. The embedded thriller about the search for Pearl is fairly rote, hindered by the fact that only its protagonists don’t know the outcome. It's properly
upstaged by the human drama that plays out as a heavily pregnant Mariane holes up with the intelligence services of the United States and Pakistan. A Mighty Heart is about waiting under the worst of circumstances with only bad news in the offing. Far from exploiting Pearl’s grisly death, the movie makes stringent demands on our patience as the search fans out through Karachi, where terrorist cells multiply like mushrooms. There are sentimental moments when the movie risks trading its modest dignity for an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But they are few in a quiet drama meant to place us sympathetically inside Mariane’s catastrophe and only tangentially to parse its wider significance.
Michael Winterbottom Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Archie Panjabi, Will Patton, Irfan Khan, Sajid Hasan, Dennis O'Hare, Alyy Khan, Adnan Siddiqui Laurence Coriat, Michael Winterbottom, John Orloff, Mariane Pearl, Sarah Crichton Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Andrew Eaton Paramount Vantage