A Mighty Heart should have been a good movie so it was all the more disappointing because it was not. The real-life story itself is compelling, full of drama and emotion. The major players for the movie are all Hollywood heavies, and yet it bombed at the box office for a reason. First, the title of the movie is stupid. It sounds like a kid’s animated flick or something that should star a gorilla. Secondly, there was little heart or soul in the film and the disjointed plot was made all the more confusing because much of it was in a foreign language, sans subtitles. It was shot for the most part as a never-ending series of hyper-fast shots, cut-aways, using multiple camera angles per scene, which was distracting and did little to add tension to the film, though I presume that is what they were trying for.
The only reason I can recommend this movie at all is that there is one heart-wrenching scene that is perfectly acted by Jolie, proving she really can act when she has the space for it. When Mariane learns her husband has been killed her reaction is as authentic as I’ve ever scene in movies. I don’t know how many people experience the death of a loved one in this way but it perfectly emulated my own reaction when I learned of my beloved nephew’s death when he was 17-years-old. There was the initial pause of disbelief, followed by a few seconds of paralysis when your body has no road map for reacting to something so profound. Then you can’t breath, you collapse into fits of crying that segues to screaming in agony and moaning with the ache of such tremendous pain. The three minute scene brought tears to my eyes and I could barely breathe because she was so believable in her anguish. I wasn’t sure if I could finish watching the performance. I did, though, and then I watched it twice more.
Synopsis: On January 23, 2002, Mariane Pearl’s world changed forever. Her husband Daniel, the South Asia Bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, was researching a story on shoe bomber Richard Reid. As Danny left for the meeting, he told Mariane he might be late for dinner. He never returned. The film is based on Mariane Pearl’s memoir, A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl. It depicts Danny’s disappearance, the intense effort to find him and his eventual murder. Transcending religion, race and nationality, Mariane’s courageous desire to rise above the bitterness and hatred that continues to plague this post 9/11 world, serves as the purest expression of the joy of life she and Danny shared.