Movie about kidnapping of Daniel Pearl

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Mighty Heart tells the story of the hunt in Pakistan for kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl through the eyes of his pregnant wife, Mariane, played by Angelina Jolie dipped in caramel. Aside from Jolie—who is very fine, though improbably cast—and a sprinkling of idyllic flashbacks (Daniel gazing into his wife’s eyes, Daniel caressing her swollen belly), the movie is clipped, blunt, and grimly realistic. It is practically a policier, although the suspense is mitigated by our knowledge that the investigation will end badly. There’s surprisingly little in the way of politics (the director is the Brit Michael Winterbottom, who’s not known for reticence in that area) and no overarching message—apart from Pearl’s shining example as an investigative journalist. The conclusions we must draw for ourselves.

The most obvious is that in late 2001 and early 2002, we (by which I mean the American media and its consumers) had little idea of the deadly labyrinth into which the “war on terror” would lead us. When we meet Pearl (Dan Futterman, an uncanny look-alike), he’s en route to interview a volubly anti-American sheikh, possibly connected to would-be “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. Pearl is no naïf, but the meeting is supposed to take place in public, in a restaurant; he’s an internationally known journalist—an unlikely target, even as Jew, for jihadists with a message to get out. From a taxi he phones his wife, who’s shopping for a dinner party that night, to say he loves her and will try not to be too late....

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