The film was screened out of competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, before being released in North America on June 22, 2007.
A Mighty Heart is a detailed account of the search for kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.
Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi by supporters of Omar Sheikh, who claimed responsibility (and was later captured and convicted but is appealing the ruling) for kidnapping and beheading Pearl in 2002. The movie also covers efforts by Pakistan's Security Forces, Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) to track the kidnappers and bring them to justice.Dan Futterman as Daniel Pearl
Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl
Will Patton as Randall Bennett, Special Agent U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)
Alyy Khan as Sheikh Omar/Bashir
Archie Panjabi as Asra Nomani
Irrfan Khan as Zeeshan Kazmi, Karachi Police Chief
Adnan Siddiqui as Dost Aliani
William Hoyland as John Bauman, U.S. Consul-General
Denis O'Hare as John Bussey Wall Street Journal Foreign Editor
Bilal Saeed as Moinuddin Haider, Interior Minister of Pakistan
Shah Murad Aliani as Amjad Farooqi
Ahmed A. Jamal as Khalid Khawaja, Pakistani Air Force member of ISS
Daud Khan as Masud the Fixer, founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed and mentor to Sheikh Omar
Ikram Bhatti as Sheikh Gilani, Cleric & founder of Jamaat ul-Fuqra
Jeffry Kaplow as Judea Pearl
Perrine Moran as Ruth Pearl
Azfar Ali as Azfar
Imran Hasnee as Journalist
Jillian Armenante as Maureen Platt
Zachary Coffin as Matt MacDowell
Demetri Goritsas as John Skelton
Pervez Musharraf as himself President of Pakistan archival footage
Colin Powell as himself United States Secretary of State archival footage
Sajid Hasan as Zubair
Mikail Lotia as Hasan
Gary Wilmes as Steve LeVine, Wall Street Journal Central Asia Correspondent
Sean Chapman as US Journalist
A Mighty Heart was filmed in France and India, during the summer and fall of 2006. Fearing the safety of the film crew, the Karachi-scenes were shot in Pune, India. But some of the shots were shot on actual locations in Karachi.
A Mighty Heart performed poorly at the box office, only earning a total revenue of $18 million compared to its production budget of $16 million. The film opened June 22, 2007 in the United States and Canada and grossed $3.9 million in 1,355 theaters its opening weekend, ranking #10 at the box office. It went on to gross $18,727,125 worldwide. As of December 16, 2007, the film has grossed an additional $5.4 million in DVD/VHS sales and rentals in the United States.
The film received positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 79% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 192 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 74 out of 100, based on 38 reviews.
Jolie's performance was widely touted by top critics as her finest artistic achievement to date. Both she and the film received a positive review from Roger Ebert. The film was described by Newsweek as "a movie without melodrama or movie-star lighting…allowing Jolie to deliver the most delicate, powerful and human-scale performance of her career." Other favorable reviewers included Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, Justin Chang of Variety and Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter. Marc Mohan of The Oregonian named it the 10th best film of 2007.
However, Andrew O'Hehir, film critic for Salon.com, while finding Jolie's performance "restrained and dignified", dismissed the film itself, writing, "it feels like an extra-long episode of 24 with a bad conscience and a bad ending." Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum felt that Jolie's celebrity was a problem, commenting that "Despite the best of intentions, an actress who makes her own headlines gets in the way of the big picture."
Asra Nomani—a colleague of Daniel Pearl who had agreed to participate in the film—stated that the film failed to portray Pearl as a journalist, doing his job, in favor of creating a dramatic arc of "ordinary heroes". She believes Pearl would have "rolled his eyes" at that description. Describing her own response to the film, Nomani said, "For me, watching the movie was like having people enter my home, rearrange the furniture and reprogram my memory."
The announcement of the casting of Angelina Jolie in the role of Mariane Pearl drew criticism within the African-American community. Orville Lloyd Douglas, a pop critic, has criticized the casting because, he said, "Jolie is white" and Mariane Pearl is "mixed race". In fact, Pearl is the multi-racial daughter of a Dutch-Jewish father and an Afro-Chinese-Cuban mother. Pearl personally chose Jolie to play the lead in A Mighty Heart. In response to casting complaints, Pearl said "I have heard some criticism about her casting, but it is not about the color of your skin. It is about who you are. I asked her to play the role—even though she is way more beautiful than I am—because I felt a real kinship to her. She put her whole heart into it, and I think she understood why we should do this movie. We had something to say that we knew we should say together."
On November 27, 2007, the film was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards including Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Picture of the Year.
Jolie was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Critics' Choice Movie Award for best actress. She also received an Outstanding Performance of the Year Award for her performance from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling said, "We are honored to celebrate Ms. Jolie in what is arguably one of the most extraordinary female roles of the year".