Angelina Jolie stars in Michael Winterbottom’s A Mighty Heart, which releases June 22 from Paramount Vantage. A film of glancing emotional blows, the movie tells the story of the ill-fated investigation into the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman), who disappears in Karachi while researching a story on captured shoe bomber Richard Reid. Donning brown contacts and a light French accent, Jolie plays Mariane Pearl, Daniel’s wife, who was six months pregnant at the time of the ordeal in January, 2002.
That this isn’t ordinary summer fare is stating the obvious, but I was a bit surprised at just how much of a tangled procedural A Mighty Heart is. Full of two steps forward and one step back, it’s all about the labyrinthine investigation and intelligence agency finger-pointing that plays out over the course of a few tense weeks, as mysterious names are cross-checked and connected to other suspects and organizations, all in a mad effort to identify (much less locate) Daniel’s captors.
Jolie’s portrayal, meanwhile, recalls that sort of Magic Shell chocolate syrup — the stuff that hardens when it hits ice cream. It should be pointed out that this is by design, and in lockstep with the script, which convincingly sketches Mariane’s resoluteness, but does so in an inwardly reflected fashion. Two emotional moments leap out for me — very obviously designed as poles to one another. The first can be intuited; it’s a protracted howl of anguished grief when Mariane finally learns of her husband’s fate, and it’s notable because of how it stands in contrast to the manner in which so many films (and especially TV shows) peddle sorrow and pain in polite strokes. The other bit, though, is a light and almost impulsive moment. Giving an interview several days after her husband’s kidnapping, Mariane is asked if there is anything she would say to her husband if he could now hear her. The answer itself is brief and obvious — “I love you” — but Jolie puts such a personal spin on it, and the reflexivity of the reply is heartrending. More thoughts and a proper review will follow closer to the A Mighty Heart‘s release date, but for more information, visit the movie’s eponymous web site by clicking here.