The actress had to fight make her directorial debut happen, but it opened to murky reviews
Breaking out from her mould, A-lister Angelina Jolie (Maleficent, Mr and Mrs Smith, Salt) is setting out to prove she can do more than just act (and adopt kids). Late last year, Jolie publicly unveiled a shocking revelation: she hates acting.
“I’ve never been comfortable as an actor – I’ve never loved being in front of the camera,” she told Du Jour magazine.
So Jolie went on to direct Unbroken, which released on Christmas Day in the US. Although it broke through as the third-biggest Christmas Day debut ever, it has been met with mixed reviews.
An Uninspired Inspiration
Unbroken traces the life of American athlete and hero Louis Zamperini (played by Jack O’Connell), from his rebellious youth to the time he was captured as a prisoner of war in World War II.
At 19, Zamperini is the youngest American qualifier for the 5000m race when he entered the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. It was here that he shook hands with Adolf Hitler, whose personal flag Zamperini later stole.
During World War II, Zamperini’s bombardier plane crashed and he was moored on a raft for 47 days, only to be picked up by the Japanese army and tortured for years after.
It’s a powerful and inspiring account of Zamperini’s personal journey, both in adolescence and war. Fitting particularly well is the movie’s score, which heightened the film to near-epic proportions.
However, not everybody received Unbroken this way. One critic lamented that it’s “an inspiring truth, but an uninspired film”. Another reviewed that it lacked energy and vitality – a joie de vivre that revalidates life.
Jolie “had to fight for the job”
Whether or not you walk away inspired by Unbroken’s telling of Zamperini’s legacy, Jolie’s journey towards this directorial debut is another tale of bravery.
“I had to fight for the job,” she told the London Evening Standard (LES). “There was really no shame – it was anything I could do to get this job.”
But that was only the beginning of the challenge. Jolie shared: “There were many days where I had my head in my hands, but the one person who told me I could do it was Louie.”
Zamperini passed away in July last year. He was 97 years old.
His story is one that has to be shared with the world, Jolie believes. She said: “I can’t possibly understand what it would be like to come out of a war… but I think it is important to think about.”
Support from an unlikely critic
Whatever the other critics have to say about Unbroken, the film has received high praise from an unexpected source.
Jolie’s ‘rival’, fellow actress Jennifer Aniston, told ET Online: “That movie is so beautiful and wonderful and she did such a gorgeous job.”
Source: Star, celebritydirtylaundry.com
Aniston and Jolie were embroiled in one of the greatest media-fuelled scandals in Hollywood history, when the latter began dating Aniston’s ex-husband Brad Pitt. But that’s all “petty kind of silliness” now, Aniston said amidst her fond words for Unbroken.
Meanwhile, people have been quick to point out a coincidence: Pitt was filming for war film Fury in Britain while Jolie was shooting Unbroken in Australia.
“We wrote each other letters,” Jolie told LES. “We got very ‘40s romantic.”
Aww, how sweet. With that back story, I think I’ll be catching Unbroken so I can feel a little more unbroken inside.
Director: Angelina Jolie
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson
Genre: Biography, drama
Run length: 137 min
Release: 5 Feb