Dubby’s dvdiscussion: Heart of tragedy


Autumn is the season when the Oscar betting starts. This year A Mighty Heart starring Angelina Jolie is a runner. Co-produced by Brad Pitt, Jolie stars as Mariane Pearl in the true story of kidnapped and subsequently killed Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl.

Directed on a comparatively small budget by the prolific, fast-shooting, smart and unsentimental Michael Winterbottom, A Mighty Heart deals with Jolie looking for her husband.

Winterbottom’s first move was to deglamorise Angelina and by making her a part of our teeming sub-continent where the film was shot in Karachi and Mumbai. There is no chic fall back for the actress.

Jolie is supported by two Eastern actors — Archie Punjabi as her husband Daniel’s associate, and Irrfan Khan as the Karachi police detective in search of her husband Daniel, who went looking for Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber.

As Brian Marder says, “Jolie may not necessarily deserve the Oscar, but the writing is on the wall, what with the ‘Best Actress Law’: played-down looks, a real-life character and a foreign accent. There’s also a gut-wrenching scene — you can imagine the point in the story at which it occurs — which might as well have had ‘Future Oscar Reel’ scrolling across the bottom.”

The movie has been compared to United 93 and Zodiac, which were docu-dramas with the difference. A Mighty Heart has more suspense than Zodiac, and less confusion than United 93. Having said which there is enough in the movie to earn it at least a prize or two, put Jolie at the top of her profession and to bring to the fore what everybody goes through in the war on terror mighty heart or not.

Adds Glenn Kenny, “The ever astute Winterbottom casts the film as a procedural and an ensemble piece. Contrary to what many might have inferred from the production stills, official-and-non, that emerged during the making of the film, this is not a picture wherein a lone Mariane Pearl wanders wide-eyed through the streets of Karachi in a heroic search for her missing spouse.

“Winterbottom appears to understand that no matter how much his lead actress is made up (here she is given a darker complexion and ringlets of hair to better resemble the Afro-Cuban-Dutch Pearl, though she looks pretty much just like herself regardless), there is no way an audience is going to look at her onscreen and not see Angelina Jolie. He employs a couple of strategies to tackle this. In the initial sequences of the film, he rarely puts her in the frame all by herself; she’s always in part of some bustle, even if she’s in the foreground. He also cuts very quickly; he doesn’t give her any ‘moments’. Thus, he makes her just a part of what he’s weaving, much of which involves getting the viewer as deep as a film possibly can get one into the feel of Karachi. Winterbottom’s particularly good with environments, and he’s also a deft, quick storyteller and he juggles chronology in a way that gives us a rapid, empathy-generating read of Daniel and Mariane’s passionate involvement while moving the kidnap tale at almost full throttle.”