Despite its not very good title, the new Angelina Jolie vehicle, A Mighty Heart is a surprisingly good movie. I received an advanced screening of it last night and, though I wanted to write up my quick thoughts then, I felt a need to wait one day to let the physical processes crawl into something coherent, which, it turns out, didn’t happen:
- I didn’t quite grok all of the visuals because the theatre (note Canadian spelling) was so crowded that we had to sit in the second row. I don’t think I’ve had to do this since I was 14, watching The Jerk.
- Angelina Jolie, no matter what anyone will say, plays a (pretty) believable wife of Daniel Pearl. We, in the witness chairs, view her slow but brave collapse as her husband is first missing, then hostaged, then murdered.
- I worried at the start that A Mighty Heart would play up the huge cultural differences between Pakistanis and foreign nationals and, in particular, Americans. It did and, despite its somewhat hamhanded approach (the country is shown as one completely overpopulated hellhole), it succeeds in defining the phenomenal differences in privilege Pearl and his family have over nearly the entire world.
- The last little point: The depiction of massive use of cell phones, email, and just-in-time news throughout the movie truly made the movie. It’s hard to imagine what the entire harrowing experience would have been like without trace-back routes, IP detection schemes, photo interpretation, intelligence sharing and interpolation, and lost cellphone calls. Were it a kidnapping depicted in 1947, we would have had 90 minutes of conversation and the reading of daily news.