Mighty Heart (A)
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (24th October 2007).
The Film

Michael Winterbottom is no stranger to controversy whether on a sexual basis with "9 Songs" (2004) or political with his brilliant "The Road to Guantanamo" (2006), this time he puts his mark on the true story of the Kidnapping and then execution of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Pearl served as the South Asia Bureau Chief for the Journal and was investigating and working on stories on the show bomber Richard Reid AKA The Shoe Bomber who supposedly had links to Al Qaeda. While on report Pearl was kidnapped and the ordeal begins leaving behind his pregnant wife Mariane and a slew of U.S. Investigators, FBI who worked on co-operation with Pakistani CID to help track down the kidnappers and hopefully bring Pearl back to this family. This of course did not happen and Pearl was executed on video. The story garnered world-wide attention putting the stoplight on the often dangerous job of front line journalism. Since 9/11 and the Iraq War countless journalists have lost their lives trying to report the truth. Daniel Pearl is the most famous case and Hollywood has taken notice.
Produced under Brad Pitt's Plan B production company and based on the book "A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life & Death of My Husband Danny Pearl" by Pearl's wife, the film was originally set-up at Warner Brothers, when they dropped out Paramount Vantage stepped in and director Winterbottom was on his way. The film's structure is fractured and we jump back and forth between Pearl's travel during that fateful day and meeting with various contacts and interviewees as well as colleagues and associates and the Pearl house were the authorities have set up a headquarters for the investigation and the search for him as well as Mariane's memories all to evoke a sense of loss throughout the film. The fractured narrative also gives the film an air of confusion and anxiety as the audience tries to piece things together putting you into the film and makes you feel involved.
The film has received some high praises during its Film festival run and also its limited theatrical run mainly directed at Angelina Jolie's performances as the French wife of Pearl. However I'm not entirely impressed with her turn here, there's a lack of any emotional sentiment on her part until the very end of the film where she breaks down upon hearing of her husband's execution. Let's get one thing straight though, she got the look and the accent down, aside from that I felt that Jolie could have taken the role further but stopped just short of that. The supporting cast also seems to come in, place their 2 cents worth and leave without so much as leaving a mark that's remotely memorable with the exception of Indian actor Irfan Khan who plays the CID Captain and is probably the most interesting performance in the film as his character does whatever he can to find any leads on Pearl and his kidnappers. He was a pleasure to watch. And Aly Khan who portrayed Omar Saeed Sheikh (who was imprisoned for the plot and admitted to actually beheading Pearl himself) although brief makes an impact that's truly unnerving. The fact that the film had hardly any score underlines the realism of the piece and also creates an atmosphere where the story drives the film's emotional core.
There's been a lot of critical hype surrounding this film, but it seems that hype is a little exaggerated, "A Might Heart" is not a great film, it's merely a good one. It has themes and elements that will likely bring a tear to some people and maybe incite conversation about its subject matter, which is always a great thing. But will it stand up come Oscar time? It's hard to tell at this stage with so many great films coming out at the end of this year. Either way if you missed it in theaters it's worth checking out.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 this anamorphic transfer is a decent effort from Paramount. The image is sharp and nicely balanced with muted colors and deep blacks. Skin tones are accurate and natural and the overall image is clean and free from debris and dirt. There's some minor grain but it adds to the texture of the film and I could not spot any compression related issues or edge-enhancement. Overall it's a very good transfer.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included in English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English soundtrack and found it quite good but still lacking a bit. Dialogue was a bit on the soft side and I found that I had to push the volume up a bit; otherwise the ambient sound is immersive and places you in Pakistan. The score elements come off well as do directional effects all feel natural and noting sounds out of place. Overall it's a good effort that probably could have been better.
Optional subtitles are included in English, French and Spanish.

Extras

First up is "Journey of Passion: The Making of A Mighty Heart" a featurette that runs for 30 minutes 1 second and takes a look at the production cover aspects such as the real people in which are portrayed by the actors including both Daniel and wife Mariane, the relationship between Asra and Mariane as well as the Captain who Mariane put a lot of trust into in leading the investigation in Pakistan. The clip also takes a look at working with the director and the flexibility of shooting the film in HD as well as the camera technique. Finally we also get an understanding of what the filmmakers hoped to achieve by making this film.

Next up we've got "Committee to Protect Journalists" a featurette that runs for 8 minutes 40 seconds and takes a look at the background on the Committee including how the organization started and what they do for Journalists as well as their reaction to Daniel's kidnapping and what he represented.

Following that is a public service announcement commercial which is presented by journalist Christiane Amanpour and talks about the Daniel Pearl Foundation and runs for 2 minutes 8 seconds.

Rounding out the extras are a collection of bonus trailers for:
- "Margot at the Wedding" which runs for 2 minutes 31 seconds.
- "Arctic Tale" which runs for 1 minute 56 seconds.
- "Stardust" which runs for 2 minutes 25 seconds.
- "The Kite Runner" which runs for 1 minute 59 seconds.
- "The Year of the Dog" which runs for 2 minutes 28 seconds.

Overall

The Film: B Video: A Audio: B Extras: B Overall: B

 


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