Third Hollywood Post-9/11 Same as The Other Two

Maui Time | June 4, 2007
Don't Look For Neorealism Here

A Mighty Heart, like the other post-9/11 Hollywood movies (United 93 and World Trade Center), is a would-be documentary subject inflated with promotion in its incarnation as a narrative feature. The turgid emphasis on sentiment and emotion is intended to overpower the viewer into believing and agreeing with everything on the screen, lest he or she be thought of as callous or insensitive. All of the oh-so-sincere earnestness seems to say, you are either with us or you are a bad person. "Hokey" is a word that springs to the lips when I think of these films, but not hokey in a cool Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca way. No, these movies are meant to be perceived as "important" and "serious" because they ostensibly reveal "heroes" that we the audience should aspire to, but could never be, since we were not in the enviable position of the suffering person onscreen.

The "mighty heart" of the film's title refers more to the long suffering wife of the deceased Wall Street Journalist reporter Daniel Pearl than it does to the man himself. We know this because the climax of the piece arrives when the protagonist, a pregnant Mariane Pearl, goes into an extended primal scream session after hearing news of her husband’s long foreshadowed death. Never more has the Shakespeare quote from Hamlet, "the lady doth protest too much" applied so obviously to a crisis decision in a movie. Daniel Pearl and his wife were acutely aware of the dangers of his job. He was in Karachi trying to get interviews with known terrorists. That Mariane Pearl chose to improperly apply for the 9/11 victim's relief fund, even though her husband did not perish in that event, informs her unflinching sense of opportunism that carried over to writing a book and participating in making a film about her husband's death.

Somehow, all of this obvious motivation escaped director Michael Winterbottom, the film's producer Brad Pitt and his wife Angelina Jolie, because they bought into Mariane Pearl's money grab pity party hook, line and sinker. Never mind that the linear story isn't capable of maintaining a three-act structure merely because actress, star and supermom Angelina Jolie plays the rather homely-looking Mariane Pearl with every curly hair flawlessly in place. If only Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" played on the soundtrack, then we'd know for certain that her "hair was perfect."

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