Monday, October 29, 2007

A Mighty Heart

Genre: Non-Fiction Ratings 5/5
If International affairs give you a kick, then go catch ‘A Mighty Heart’.

It is a powerful movie based on naked truth. The film documents the events revolving round the kidnapping and subsequent killing of the Wall Street Journal, South Asia Bureau chief Daniel Pearl while reporting for a story in Pakistan. This was the time when the US was just beginning to flex its muscle in response to the daring attacks of 9/11.

The best part about the narrative is that it is factually and truthfully told. I think that is going to be the film’s USP and will eventually work for it. Angelina Jolie as a heavily pregnant Mariane, Daniel’s wife is at her career best. Expect an academy nomination for her stellar, real-life performance.

Michael Winterbottom’s casting crew makes a fascinating line-up. Indian actors like Irrfan Khan are first-rate. And although we already know Daniel’s fate -- he was beheaded, with the gruesome execution documented on tape -- the narrative still grips us with its frantic editing patterns and a restless, quasi-documentary approach. The hand-held, digital-video camerawork lends a certain heat-of-the moment immediacy to the proceedings, as a broadsheet puts it.

Though many people in conservative circles still believe that Daniel Pearl was CIA, I never trust such clap-trap. I know everything does not necessarily have to be spooky and this spy-thing is largely cliché. It is the easiest and most stupid label people stick on each other, in hostile places. Indian spies, ISI, Mossad, KGB. There is a something mischievously oddball about it.

The film is based on Mariane Pearl's first-hand published account of the dramatic events following her husband's disappearance. I especially liked the film-maker's focus on the Pearl maid's kid as the undersong. Although no ways connected to the main motif, the infant is constantly flickering across the screen, walking in between the labyrinth of wires that the FBI and Pakistani intelligence guys set around the Pearl home in Karachi. The innocent moments offer visual interludes in an otherwise intense movie.

The film is an eye-opener in many ways. It talks about the dangers of modern extremism, the cunning of it. A mighty heart underlines the pressures under which investigating agencies operate and how international relations can go askew in a matter of minutes.

We also learn about the perils of new age journalism, not withstanding its sheer romanticism. AMH subtly tells all of it, very originally, very candidly. Reminds me of Aldous Huxley, 'Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad'.