A Mighty Heart is based on the memoir of Mariane Pearl. Pregnant when extremists in Pakistan famously beheaded her husband, journalist Daniel Pearl, her book was intended to set an example of resistance against the cycle of hatred that her husband's death exemplifies.

To some, dragging the Pearls' experience through the Hollywood spin machine is problematic enough. Add the Brangelina factor—Brad Pitt's company, Plan B, produced the film, while Angelina Jolie stars as Mariane—and for many the project is doomed. Assorted rebuttals: The film is directed by relatively un-Hollywood Michael Winterbottom (The Road to Guantanamo, A Cock and Bull Story), and the filmmakers worked closely with Pearl—Pitt has even indicated it was Pearl's decision to cast Jolie.

Jolie's casting has additional baggage: Mariane is of mixed race (technically, Jolie is too), and for the film, Jolie was spackled with bronzer and sported a kinky wig to better resemble Mariane, inciting cries of "Brownface!" There was also the hilariously telling issuance by the actress' lawyers of an agreement to be signed by reporters at the film's New York premiere requiring they refrain from asking Jolie anything not regarding the film—a film that, ironically, lionizes the freedom of the press.

But in the end, A Mighty Heart is surprisingly good, though not without its warts—compellingly, it sizes down an international nightmare to the experience of one woman. If you can get beyond the American entitlement (only the death of an American civilian can make the world stop), and the "manufacture of heroes out of tragedy" that Daniel's fellow journalist, Asra Nomani, who worked closely with the filmmakers, pointed to in her withdrawal of support (no word on whether she is repaying the fee she presumably collected for her consult), you'll find a story that is as much historical reenactment as human drama.