F.I.L.M. of the Week (September 24, 2010)

24 09 2010

This week’s “F.I.L.M.” is “A Mighty Heart,” the movie that chronicles the 2002 search for kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.  Running parallel to the hunt is the story of his pregnant wife, Mariane (Angelina Jolie), as she deals with his disappearance – and ultimately, his death.

(I think the story of Pearl’s captivity and beheading is well-known enough that I didn’t need to preface that with a spoiler alert, but if anyone thinks I’m ruining the surprise, let me know and I’ll take out that last part.)

On his last day on assignment on Pakistan, Daniel ventures into some sketchy areas to interview a very mysterious but powerful figure.  When he doesn’t come home that night, Mariane instantly fears that his disappearance was a kidnapping.  And as the days go by without word from him, the investigation takes on a graver importance.  The Department of Justice takes over the search; the CIA releases a report denouncing allegations that Daniel was an agent for them; even Colin Powell acknowledges the situation.

While the hunt for the kidnappers is mostly gripping, it doesn’t feel like anything we haven’t seen before.  “A Mighty Heart” works best when Angelina Jolie is on camera giving her tour-de-force performance as Mariane Pearl.  Clearly people that dismiss her celebrity as due to her beauty clearly haven’t seen “A Mighty Heart” (or, for that matter, any of her Oscar-nominated and -winning roles).

Jolie has a pitch-perfect range and totally nails Pearl’s every move.  While at the beginning she doesn’t show much emotion, we don’t feel distant at all.  In fact, it only draws us in more.  When we reach the tragic end, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch her let it all out.  It’s Angelina’s movie, and she owns every moment of it with as much grace as she has on the red carpet.