A Mighty Heart

EntertainmentMoviesAngelina JolieMichael WinterbottomBrad PittAcademy AwardsPakistan

Just about everyone knows that Angelina Jolie has four kids with Brad Pitt, but how many people remember she's also won an Oscar?

Angelina the actress is back in "A Mighty Heart," the story of Mariane Pearl whose husband Daniel went from journalist to headline when he was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002.

This sort of somber docudrama is unexpected, but not unwelcome, in a typically fluffy summer movie season. It's also a positive direction for Jolie's career, who delivers her strongest performance in years as Mariane. The only question is what took her so long to find a project that meshes with her off-screen status as a social activist.

The subject matter also fits perfectly with director Michael Winterbottom's naturalistic, sober style of filmmaking, although the raw nature of his work usually precludes the projects from making a major box office impact. Jolie is arguably the biggest star he's worked with yet and her presence should make the tough sell of a dark tale at least a little easier.

There's still no escaping the harrowing nature of the Pearls' story, and the film relentlessly focuses on Mariane's desperate struggle to locate her missing husband with only a few moments of off-kilter humor for levity. It doesn't seem like a stretch to believe Winterbottom was somewhat inspired by the successful vérité approach of "United 93," and while "A Mighty Heart" is a more personal tale it also avoids obvious sentimentality.

Based on Mariane's memoir of the same name (she also served as a consultant for the film), "A Mighty Heart" never feels less than authentic. The film probably isn't anyone's idea of entertainment, but it respectably holds its own as an intelligent alternative to competition with far more hype but considerably less substance.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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EntertainmentMoviesAngelina JolieMichael WinterbottomBrad PittAcademy AwardsPakistan