Welcome to Manchester Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Manchester ConfidentialEntertainment & SportCinema.

A Mighty Heart

Nicola Mostyn salutes one woman’s bravery

Published on September 24th 2007.

A Mighty Heart

In January 2002 Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan, held hostage and killed. This film by Michael Winterbottom is adapted from the book of the same name by Pearl’s wife, Mariane, a French-Cuban journalist who was six months pregnant at the time of her husband’s abduction.

Perhaps the best accolade you pay an actress who appears with such frequency in the tabloids is that you easily forget it is her

A Mighty Heart begins with a voiceover by Mariane (Angelina Jolie). The couple had been reporting on the war in Afghanistan and were one day away from leaving Pakistan but had stopped off in Karachi whilst Daniel Pearl followed up a final interview in his investigation of the shoebomber Richard Reid. Karachi is one of the largest cities in the world. “How” Mariane asks, “do you find one man among all these?” It’s a poignant statement seeming to refer not only to the cleric Sheikh Gilani, who her husband was hoping to meet, but also to the eventual hunt for Daniel himself.

The film is shot in a fast-edited, jerky, documentary style. As we watch Pearl make his way to his arranged meeting point, we follow Mariane as she goes shopping and witness the hectic nature of Karachi – the cacophony of sounds, the swarms of people, the erratic, alarming surges of traffic. By the time Pearl has failed to come home that evening, the sense of nervousness the film has skilfully evoked has deepened into a greater dread.

The search for Pearl gets underway and, like the city itself, it is messy, chaotic and confused: this is real life, Winterbottom takes pains to remind us, not a Hollywood thriller. There are several flashbacks of the journalist’s actions during that day and evening but soon these stop and eventually all we see of Pearl are the images which come through from his kidnappers, in which he is handcuffed with a gun to his head.

A Mighty Heart is reminiscent of Paul Greengrass’ United 93, not because it deals with a brutal act of terrorism but because it seeks to re-create for the audience the shock, fear and hope of the search for Daniel Pearl, even whilst they must realise that the ending can never be altered. Similarly to United 93, the film achieves this by capturing the audience in the minute by minute process. It draws us into an investigation which seems a web of obstacles and possibilities but which eventually narrows in on the kidnappers and it also allows us to stand alongside Pearl’s wife who is calm and strong throughout the ordeal, determined not to give up hope on her husband.

The film has just a hint of the tension of a movie-thriller as the investigation shifts towards its climax and the Captain (Irfan Khan) and his team expose the plot which was set up to capture Pearl.
By now many minutes have passed without seeing Pearl onscreen - the director has strategically withheld any further flashbacks –and so when a montage of images from the couple’s life together fills the screen it packs a huge emotional punch. So too does the moment when Mariane, having held her poise throughout her husband’s kidnap, hears the news which forces her to let go of her hope.

Jolie is outstanding in this film. Perhaps the best accolade you pay an actress who appears with such frequency in the tabloids is that you easily forget it is her. Dan Futterman as Daniel Pearl is also brilliant as the journalist who was doing his job in the best way he knew how and Irfan Khan stands out as the Pakistani investigator determined to bring Daniel home.

There will be lots of discussion about the politics behind these real life events but perhaps the most surprising and uplifting thing about the film is that, despite the circumstances in which Daniel Pearl was murdered, the message of A Mighty Heart is anti-fear and anti-hatred, rising above the questions it raises about terrorism to suggest - a brave position, rather than a popular one - that the only thing that will ultimately make a difference is love

A Mighty Heart is on general release

Rating: 8/10

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants

Poster Boy

Unlike the reviewer, most of the audience of this film will not have the back knowledge of Chris…

 Read more
Lesley Hampson

We went to the Mark Kermode gig at Bridgewater Hall last night His special guests were the…

 Read more
John Nuttall

Actually Jonathan, you're almost correct in your imagining of the big house full of broadcasters as…

 Read more
LaToya Bollinger

One of the greatest Horror movies to date. Daniel Radcliffe isn't really given a role that he can…

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2021

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code | SEO by The eWord