Intense questions in 'A Mighty Heart'

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Angelina Jolie with Dan Futterman as Daniel Pearl in ‘A Mighty Heart’

Michael Winterbottom’s searing new docudrama “A Mighty Heart,” a dramatization of the frantic hunt for American reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped in Pakistan and later murdered, did not resonate with moviegoers in the United States. It made barely $10 million at the North American box office despite gaining a 75% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes rising to 86% in its Cream of the Crop section.

The film is only now breaking across Europe before heading to Asia and South America. It opens in the United Kingdom Friday. Reviewing it at the Festival de Cannes in May, I thought it was “an expertly fashioned documentary-style drama” with star Angelina Jolie delivering “a well-measured and moving performance as the reporter’s wife.” (In my review I mentioned the kidnapping of BBC journalist Alan Johnston but thankfully he returned safe in July)

Besides being smartly made screen entertainment, the picture touches on many important issues including the use of torture in interrogations. The reporter’s mother, Judea Pearl, feels it goes too far in comparing his death to what’s been going on at Guantanamo as she expressed in an article Wednesday in The Guardian.

I am worried that the film falls into a trap [Bertrand] Russell would have recognized: the paradox of moral equivalence, of seeking to extend the logic of tolerance a step too far.

Read the article. The South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) has a full dossier on Pearl and here’s his foundation. Here’s my film review plus others and the trailer. The Washington Post has a good interview with Winterbottom and an online discussion with the director.

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