Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
Written by:John Orloff
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Irfan Khan, Denis O’Hare, Will Patton
Released: October 18, 2007
Grade: B+

In January 2002, American journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan.  He worked for the Wall Street Journal and thought that he had secured an interview with a high-profile Sheikh.  It turned out to be a trap.  He was held against his will by an organisation with links to Al Qaeda.  The story made headlines across the globe and the world waited to see if he would be released.

A Mighty Heart brings Daniel’s story to the screen but it is not told from his perspective.  Instead, we see it all through the eyes of his wife, Mariane (Jolie).  Mariane was a Frenchwoman who also worked as a journalist.  They were in Pakistan to cover the “war on terror” in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.  Just prior to the kidnapping, they were making preparations to return to the United States.  Mariane was five months pregnant and the time was right to head home.

Those familiar with the work of director Michael Winterbottom (Welcome To Sarajevo, In This World) will recognise the film’s style.  It is shot like a documentary and you’ll feel like you are watching events as they actually happened.  You’ll take Mariane’s journey and sense how difficult it was for her.  The Pakistani police, the American officials and her close friends are all doing their best to give her hope.  As each day passes however, the lack of news starts to take its toll.

I’ve often been critical of Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) but this is her finest role.  She is tipped to earn an Academy Award nomination and if so, it will be well deserved.  Jolie shows Mariane Pearl as a woman of great strength.  Her husband may have been kidnapped but she keeps her emotions in check, puts on a brave face and does whatever she can to help find him.  On a lesser note, I have to add that I liked Jolie’s French accent.

My main criticism is that the film doesn’t maintain a solid pace throughout.  There are lengthy sequences where little is happening and I felt like I was watching nothing more than people talking on their mobile phones.  Perhaps a few minutes could have been trimmed from the 100 minute running time.

A Mighty Heart is not the easiest film to watch but those interested in the subject matter, should make sure they don’t miss it.