A Mighty Heart – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Michael Winterbottom

Cast

Dan Futterman ………. Daniel Pearl
Angelina Jolie ………. Mariane Pearl
Archie Panjabi ………. Asra Q. Nomani
Mohammed Afzal ………. Shabir
Mushtaq Khan ………. Danny’s Taxi Driver
Daud Khan ………. Masud the Fixer
Telal Saeed ………. Kaleem Yusuf
Arif Khan ………. Mariane’s Taxi Driver

The Movie

Lindsay Lohan could learn a thing or two about how to resurrect her career merely by watching Angelina Jolie over the last four years. She’s gone from being labeled as a mentally unstable starlet to being one of Hollywood’s top actresses by a careful selection of roles. Lohan has become a tabloid darling with her many addictions and box office failures, going into the same position that Jolie was once in: more famous for her predilections than for her talent. Jolie opted to stay away from horror films and romantic comedies and instead focused on roles that allowed her to be more of a feminine action heroine than a box office anchor. Jolie won critical acclaim (and an Oscar) for Girl, Interrupted and has crafted a litany of action roles in both Lara Croft films as well as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Gone in Sixty Seconds. Earlier in 2007 she took on another dramatic role, following an underrated role in The Good Shepherd, as the wife of dead Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

A Mighty Heart follows the tale of Mariane Pearl (Jolie), the widow, in the days following his kidnapping by Islamic radicals until his eventual death by beheading. The film tells mainly Mariane’s story about dealing with the aftermath of the kidnapping, and the harrowing journey of investigation trying to find the men responsible for his death.

The film doesn’t have any plot twists or surprises, obviously, because the film’s three acts are all on the record historically. Daniel gets kidnapped, tortured and then later dies. How we get through it all is something Michael Winterbottom is more concerned with than trying to add any new wrinkles to the subject. What he does is tell the story on a much more human level than a news story or a memoir can get. It’s deep and moving as well as a solid police procedural on occasion. The film moves smoothly and effectively with one slight problem: it’s lead actress.

Jolie is a fine actress, perhaps one of the best of her generation, but the problem is that every time she has a meaty role she can use well she’s saddled with an accent that’s equal parts ridiculous and campy. In Alexander she sounded like a snake charmer, and she seems to have taken that accent directly to this role as well. While the real Mariane Pearl does have a pronounced accent, seeing Jolie overindulge with it at every available opportunity is cringe worthy at best and laughable at worst. It overshadows a terrific performance in every other aspect from Jolie; we feel genuinely bad for her and she creates a character that’s easy to identify with. It’s just whenever the film really begins to get good her accent just takes over the proceedings. It’s the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about but instead just works around.

A Mighty Heart came and went from theatres relatively quickly in 2007 for a reason. Released way too early, as this is definitely a picture more in line with prestige picture season than the summer, it’s a good film marred by a bad accent.

A/V QUALITY CONTROL

Presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 format with a widescreen format, you can enjoy Angelina Jolie’s horrid accent quite well and with a great picture. The film’s DVD release has a terrific audio/visual component; the film’s visuals come through cleanly and clearly with the film’s audio (mainly dialogue) coming through quite crisply.

The Extras

Journey of Passion: The Making of A Mighty Heart is your standard making of feature about the film with a bit more depth to it than most. It’s interesting to hear some of the more unique things that Winterbottom did for the film; many times he filmed whole scenes in their entirety, as opposed to filming bits and pieces, and did this five or six times for many scenes. It was a relaxed atmosphere for the actors, apparently, and everyone in the cast talks glowingly about Winterbottom. The feature runs around thirty minutes.

There’s a Public Service Announcement about the Pearl Foundation, started in his name after his death to further the ideals of his life.

There’s also a piece about the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization in the U.S whose aim is to protect the rights of journalists worldwide.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for A Mighty Heart
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

7.0
THE VIDEO

8.5
THE AUDIO

8.5
THE EXTRAS

4.0
REPLAY VALUE

5.5
OVERALL
6.0
(NOT AN AVERAGE)