A Mighty Heart

A Mighty Heart

Available on Paramount+, iTunes
A Mighty Heart is one of those fact-based films where the audience is fully aware of the inevitable, grim climax; no matter how calm the early conversations are between married journalists Mariane (Angelina Jolie) and Daniel (Dan Futterman) Pearl, you know the bloody, heartbreaking end is near. Director Michael Winterbottom doesn't focus solely on Mariane, as a more sentimental director might have; rather, he closely depicts everyone intimately involved in the race to find Pearl -- from Danny's Wall Street Journal editor and colleagues to an American consulate official (Will Patton) to dogged Pakistani detectives led by "Captain" (Indian star Irfan Khan, a master of subtlety). As Captain and his crews scour the overcrowded streets of Karachi for clues (suspects) and Mariane and the WSJ reporters use a white board to connect the various players in the kidnapping, the tension is alleviated with flashbacks to Danny's last day as a free citizen and his life with Mariane. The brief scenes of the Pearls on their wedding day, dancing on vacation, and talking in bed are the heart of the film; they show what Danny's killers have destroyed. When the terrorists' horrifying photos of a bound Danny arrive accompanied by published accusations that Pearl is a CIA agent -- or worse, a Mossad operative -- the audience is again reminded that there is sadly only one outcome, no matter how close Captain and the FBI get to catching the kidnappers. Of course, that final, grisly beheading video is never re-created. It doesn't need to be, because by that point in the film, we've already played some version of it over and over again in our minds.
Starring Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Archie Panjabi
Director Michael Winterbottom