A Mighty Heart
For a number of reasons, it’s difficult not to think of Henry Miller’s remark that ‘whatever there be of progress in life comes not from adaptation but through daring’ when watching Michael Winterbottom’s powerful, political thriller based on Marianne Pearl’s detailed book account of the search for her kidnapped husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.
Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi by supporters of former Al Qaeda member Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, was the principal architect of the attacks). Putting Marianne (played by Angelina Jolie) central to the film, Winterbottom and screenwriter John Orloff focus not only on her initial unstinting, panicked search for her husband but also on the efforts made by special agents and the Pakistani police to track the kidnappers. It’s a gambit that allows this pseudo-docudrama, shot in Winterbottom’s inimitably kinetic style, to lapse into what is basically an ensemble piece, with all the main characters playing a waiting game to see their soldier come home. This allows some remarkable performances, most notably from Jolie as a brusque, permanently anguished Pearl, and Bollywood star Irfan Khan (The Namesake, The Warrior) as Captain, the workaholic head of the Pakistan CID.
It’s a heartbreaking and vital portrait of post 9/11 hysteria and realities writ in the we have come to expect from the prolific Mr Winterbottom, the director of among others Code 46 and The Road to Guantanamo. It also underlines some very painful truths about today’s media.
There is a reason why in the last ten years our newspapers have become so full of celebrity gossip and that is because it is a lot less dangerous, and less time-consuming and expensive to write a story about Kate Moss or any other celebrity to accompany a picture of them leaving a restaurant than to carry out a sustained investigation in to the growth of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East. Many publishers now see what was once seen as crucial reportage of development and effect on the international stage as unnecessary expenditure.
It is little wonder that Amnesty International have come out so fully in support of this troubling but illuminating film.
General release from Fri 21 Sep.