Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman) is kidnapped while on assignment in Pakistan, and his wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie) leads the search to find him. Based on the real events from 2002, "A Mighty Heart" draws largely from Mariane Pearl's book "A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl."
Big question: Do we want to see a dramatization of this story? Can it help us grieve while processing what it all means?
Catch it: "A Mighty Heart" thrusts us into this world without sugarcoating or fabricating reality, though it deprives us of Daniel's post-kidnapping experiences and struggles to end with anything deeper about the situation than what is by now common knowledge. We do, however, see investigators' struggle to squeeze any useful information from the kidnappers' network whose efficiency practically guarantees trouble for a reporter values a story over his safety.
Skip it: If you're selfish about your phone usage, as officials cut off neighbors' lines to allow more calls to Mariane's home in Pakistan. In that case, you wouldn't last a day on "The Real World."
Bottom line: "A Mighty Heart" both benefits and suffers from Jolie, who delivers a quality performance while her mega-star wattage shifts the focus from the front page to the gossip page. But it's a realistic and devastating document of journalistic values that embodies them also, seeking only to report what we know with a feel for those affected.
Bonus: For security reasons, the movie was shot in India, not Pakistan. If that doesn't drive home the bravery of the Pearls, what does?
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'A Mighty Heart'
Directed by Michael Winterbottom; screenplay by John Orloff, based on the book by Mariane Pearl with Sarah Crichton; photographed by Marcel Zyskind; edited by Peter Christelis; production design by Mark Digby; produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Andrew Eaton. A Paramount Vantage release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:48. MPAA rating: R (for language).
Mariane Pearl - Angelina Jolie
Danny Pearl - Dan Futterman
Asra Nomani - Archie Panjabi
Captain - Irrfan Khan
Randall Bennett - Will Patton
John Bussey - Denis O'Hare