First off, I’m SO GLAD that got Michael Winterbottom to direct this film. That was a really inspired and excellent choice. I have always been intrigued by his work. His films are wildly diverse and always pulsing with a unique kind of energy. In the hands of a lesser talent, this type of material could have very easily become a TV “Movie of the Week.” What I loved about his work here is how frantic, sparse and chaotic he made the film seem. The film has a gritty and raw look to it that matches the turmoil and raw emotions. I was also very glad to see Angelina Jolie cast in the lead role. Now before you roll your eyes, remember that she is actually a VERY good actress. Just to refresh my memory, I recently took another look at GIA, the HBO film she made in 1998. She is electrifying in that film! She has great intensity and skill as an actress. It is a shame that her personal life seems to wildly eclipse her work. At any rate, she doesn’t overplay her hand here and gives a thoughtful and carefully constrained performance. What I also liked about the film is that Mariane Pearl is not played as a saint, instead she is real and human. She gets angry and storms out of the room. She has outbursts. She feels so completely real. Watching the film also makes you appreciate the courage the real life Mariane Pearl showed under the most unimaginably painful circumstances.
If you follow the news to any degree, you already know the film’s outcome but that doesn’t make this story any less compelling. The scene where Mariane Pearl finds out once and for all what has happened to her husband is gut wrenching. Her bravery and ability to continue her life without anger or hatred is inspiring.
I know this film is a tough sell, particularly during this crowded summer movie season, but I would encourage you to see it anyway. It is a film that is well worth supporting.