Monday, May 21, 2007


Angelina Jolie
Film About
The Slaying
Of
Daniel Pearl:
Filmmaking
Of The
Highest Order



Any opportunity to post a picture of Angelina Jolie is great, but this time, it actually has relevance to the subject of this blog:



"A Mighty Heart," Angelina Jolie's film about the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, had its first screening Monday morning at the Cannes Film Festival.
Simply put, the Michael Winterbottom film is an exceptional piece of work, deeply affecting and filmmaking of the highest order.


In purely Hollywood terms, the film is a certain Oscar nominee. Everyone involved in "A Mighty Heart" — from Winterbottom to Jolie as Pearl's widow, Mariane, to Dan Futterman as Daniel Pearl — can be proud of a job very well done.


Based on the book by Mariane Pearl, the film follows the pregnant Mariane as she searches for her husband following his disappearance in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2002. At the time, Daniel Pearl was writing a story about shoe bomber Richard Reid.


Winterbottom's cinema verité-style only adds to the immediacy of the Pearl tragedy. This director has done a remarkable job.


And it’s not just Jolie and Futterman who shine. The entire supporting cast including Irfan Khan, who has already had a hit this year with "The Namesake," and the always reliable Will Patton as a CIA agent, makes the back-stories of the film eminently watchable, too.
But ultimately it’s Winterbottom’s achievement with screenwriter John Orloff (“Band of Brothers”) in making “Mighty Heart” an ensemble piece.


Jolie, who’s probably the hottest celebrity right now and covered by every tabloid in the world, could easily have become outsized in a story with many elements. Instead, she is quite tempered here, and becomes a team player whether she likes it or not.


It’s easy to forget what a fine actress she can be. But her understanding of Mariane Pearl is unusually touching. For most of the movie, Mariane seems a little cool, distant and brittle as she absorbs the news that her husband has been kidnapped.


Jolie, however, finally shows the human side of this strong woman when she learns that her husband is actually dead. She lets loose with shrieks of anguish that are all too real. They are almost like animal cries, and I guarantee you, audiences will be pulling out the Kleenex at this moment.


Winterbottom also punctuates the film with lots of jump-cutting, nonlinear plotting and flashback, all of which help add to the tension. He and Orloff flesh out Daniel Pearl, too, a hard task since he could have vanished after the kidnapping. But working with Futterman they create a very real man who met a tragic and untimely death.