They were here today for A Mighty Heart – the screening took place at 10:45am following by a photo call and then a press conference at 1pm.

About the film - very well received, with some comparing Michael Winterbottom’s direction to Michael Mann’s: tightly shot with a journalist’s eye, almost like a reality show without the fake. One of the actor’s at one point during the question period actually said Winterbottom would have followed them into the loo if they were still in character.

Those who were hoping it will suck will be very disappointed. A Might Heart does not suck. Not even close. In fact, it made me cry… because you can’t imagine the strength of this woman – what she went through, how she fought, how in spite of the murder of her husband while pregnant with his child, somehow she manages to continue to believe in humanity.

And even though this post is primarily about smut, I’d be remiss to undercredit the remarkable Mariane Pearl. She is incredibly impressive. Which is why there has been much criticism levelled at the casting: that Angelina and Mariane look nothing alike, that they are from different ethic backgrounds, that in hiring Angelina to play the role, it effectively robbed other actresses with more similar physical characteristics the opportunity.

On film, the resemblance is adequate. You still KNOW it’s Angelina Jolie but it’s not a stretch of the imagination either. More importantly, her acting and her accent do the part justice. She is different in this movie than she has been in others. You know most of the time, when Angelina Jolie delivers a line, because of the nature of her films like Tomb Raider and Mr and Mrs Smith, the delivery is always tinged with a little action hero cheese – like Bruce Willis without a penis?

Well in A Mighty Heart, her speech patterns are different, she’s less of a caricature than she is a character, and she shows more range than she ever has before, and that could explain why they are seriously considering an Oscar run. I’m not sure if I’d go that far but never underestimate the Paramount hype machine. The lips however…the lips are way to distracting. Not in person but definitely on film. Is it possible to make them smaller?

Sorry, I digress.

Back to publicity and marketing and what is looking like a brilliant subtle piece of master media manipulation that only Brad Pitt can pull off.

Mariane Pearl was front and centre during the press conference. The first questions were directed at her. And so in her charming, multilingual way, she addressed questions about her involvement and about how she wanted to tell her story. One of the first things she did therefore was to stress that she herself was the one to pick Angelina Jolie for the part. She approached her, she asked her, and she says she is thrilled with the result. Now is not a celebrity, she is a private person, so she did not give in to that voyeuristic need for all of us to see her emote on a stage when questions about her memories came up. Needless to say, seeing a film chronicling the kidnapping and subsequent death of her husband must have been unimaginably painful. And yet she stayed away from the melodrama and focused instead on the message: she wanted to do justice to Danny’s life and she was grateful for Angelina’s respect of her wishes – she actually went so far as to say something to the effect of “it meant even more because Angelina is someone that I love”. Of course at that point, Angelina almost cried.

And so you can hear that subtle but powerful underlying message, right? Mariane Pearl, who is beyond reproach, has given her stamp of approval to Angelina Jolie. So whose place is it to argue her judgement?

Brad Pitt is a media genius, see?

And still…it would unfair to end on that note. Because Mariane Pearl is amazing. She has this way of speaking, of holding herself, of treating the most haunting subject matter with such poise and such peace, it’s hard not to feel comfortable in her presence. Mariane Pearl is all class. And regardless of your feelings about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, her life story is absolutely, 100% worth sharing.

More Brad and Angie details coming...