On January 23, 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is to fly from Karachi to Dubai with his pregnant wife, Mariane, also a reporter. On the day before, with great care, he has arranged an interview in a café with an Islamic fundamentalist cleric. When Danny doesn't return, Mariane initiates a search. Pakistani police, American embassy personnel, and the FBI examine witnesses, phone records, e-mails, and hard drives. Who has him? Where is he? There's also the why: because of U.S. abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo, because of a history of Journal cooperation with the CIA, because Pearl is a Jew? Through it all, Mariane is clearheaded, direct, and determined. Written by
Since a lot of the movie was shot in Pune and Mumbai, a lot of scenes actually show taxis and roads of Mumbai and Pune. Though most cars in focus have the numbers changed, yet Fiat taxi's and trucks with Indian number plates are all over the place. See more »
The day after 9-11, Danny and I flew to Pakistan. He was the South Asia Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, and I was working for French Public Radio. Thousands of journalist from all over the world arrived in Islamabad to cover the war in neighboring Afghanistan. On the 7th October, bombing began.
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This is an intimate film. Basically a love story set in the political wreckage after the attack on the World Trade Center. As such, we don't get much detail about the different factions in Pakistan or who is "good" or "bad." It's the story of a couple who find themselves being used by terrorists and whether it is mere coincidence because they are Westerners or whether more specific points are being made because Daniel Pearl is Jewish aren't really explored, a wide variety of explanations are offered. Instead, as a backdrop to the suspense and the couple's relationship, we get a visual poem of life in Islamabad and Karachi, which I found beautiful, fascinating and more than just a little frightening. These are not cities for people with claustrophobia.
With the story beginning the day of Daniel Pearl's kidnapping, his character is fleshed out only through flashback or what others say about him, as well as the devotion of all who search to rescue him. I doubt few will go to this film without knowing the outcome. I suppose some fans of Ms. Jolie might attend and find themselves unaware of the events portrayed in the movie. So Winterbottom has his work cut out for him since most in the audience know the conclusion.
As Mariane Pearl, Angelina Jolie gives a remarkable, restrained performance. Her face is a mask and emotion is communicated almost exclusively through her eyes. It's the gift of a remarkable talent for the screen. I don't know how anyone could have been better. Others in the cast, too, are notable: Archie Panjabi holds her own with Jolie whenever they're together on the screen. It's a particularly complicated role since she becomes the target of the Pakistani press as the reason for Pearl's abduction, and her guilt, bafflement and frustration give the film added suspense. And Irfan Khan, the pivotal Pakistani investigatorin a role that could have been clichédbrings an urgency to his character that earned my sympathy for succeeding in what must have been an impossible task. The film opens with Mariane Pearl describing Karachi as the World's second largest city and her husband was trying to meet with one man how impossible it must be to find a single person in such a large place. That proves prophetic as Irfan Kahn then has to find Daniel Pearl.
The growing alarm of the first night of Pearl's abduction is particularly well done by both the director and actors.
I'm a little shocked by others' comment here that the Pearl's shouldn't have been "doing what they were doing" or because they put themselves in a dangerous situation we should somehow feel less sympathetic. I'm ashamed that such comments could be made in the face of this tragedy.
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