Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Mighty Heart

"A Mighty Heart" (Michael Winterbottom, 2007) Probably not the best move to put out a movie on the Daniel Pearl story so soon after the tragic event, but it was a chance to draw attention to the quickly-established Daniel Pearl Foundation, and while the film is now out on DVD, it's a better forum for that message.

The story of Pearl's kidnapping and killing in Karachi, Pakistan is told from the point of view of Mariane Pearl (
Angelina Jolie) as anything else would be merely speculation. It is the main problem of the movie (and a strength) that little is known about the crimes and makes the event a sucking black hole of non-information that dominates the entire film. Winterbottom has to make fast work of the long hours of worrying, chasing down leads and building up hope. This is done with a near-documentary style—the cameras are never still and locked-down camera angles are not to be seen, giving the entire film a feeling of flux—nothing stays the same for very long, although the waiting and the heat and the tension are constants—the impression is given that the entire film was caught on the fly, in glimpses.

The tension is different out on the street as the camera looks for some semblance of order in the urban chaos. Police and intelligence forces comb the city alleys shaking down anyone who can shed some light in the dark.
Irrfan Khan, an Indian actor, dominates these scenes as (simply) "Captain." Khan is a restrained actor who seems to seethe emotion out of his pores rather than express them through his face.* He's always interesting to watch. And fortunately, Angelina Jolie is an intelligent enough actress to play the tension of the scene without histrionics. She's playing a journalist, after all. But a very pregnant journalist. And the tension of every scene can be seen in the muscles in her throat. Someone recently wrote that Angelina Jolie has become one of those iconic stars that has to work extra hard so you no longer see Angelina Jolie but the character she is playing. Here, she does just that.

Pearl herself picked her for the part.

* He also plays the police captain interrogating the kid in "Slumdog Millionaire." Oh, that's where you've seen him....

No comments: