Archive | 11:10 pm

Mighty Good

21 Jun

Like the woman at its center, A Mighty Heart has a real quiet dignity. Which is not to say it’s a quiet movie, but it’s not a big, showy one, and it’s not exactly the kind of movie you enjoy — which makes it perfect counter-programming in a season of blockbusters — but the way it deals with its subject matter with grace and humanity only helps its cause.

Basically, A Mighty Heart tells the story of the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl from the perspective of his wife, Mariane. It’s been filmed with handheld cameras in a documentary, you-are-there fashion, which gives it a real sense of immediacy and realism. There isn’t a score playing underneath the action to tell you how to feel, and there aren’t grand speeches about the horrible people who have done this to Pearl. There’s not even a re-enactment of what happened to Pearl when or while he was kidnapped. There’s just a group of Americans and Pakistanis working together and taking action to save him before it’s too late.

Of course, we all know what happened to Daniel Pearl, which makes the film somewhat frustrating. I would have thought that maybe half or two-thirds of A Mighty Heart would have been spent on the kidnapping and the rest would have been spent on Mariane’s struggle afterward, and how she handled it. Instead, we generally see her sitting around a table, trying to hold herself together and stay positive, trying to save face in what is certainly a devastating situation, gazing at pictures of Pearl that have been sent from the kidnappers as if they were wedding pictures, and basically waiting for her husband to come home. Which, sure, demonstrates her grace under fire. But it doesn’t adequately convey how she dealt with her husband’s brutal death in a heroic and positive way, thus giving relevance to the film’s title, and I wish more time had been spent on that.

That all said, I think A Mighty Heart is certainly worth seeing. As a document of how these people tried to save Pearl, for all their varied reasons, it is very good. And Angelina Jolie definitely gives an effective performance; race issues aside, given Jolie’s very public efforts to better the world, the role of Mariane Pearl seems to fit her like a glove. Thankfully, she doesn’t make the movie about her (ie: Angelina) and lets Mariane’s quiet actions speak for themselves.

Mariane might be pregnant in this movie, but A Mighty Heart is no Knocked Up. If you can deal with that, and you have a tissue handy, then you’ll likely find A Mighty Heart worthwhile. I’m giving it a B+.