In a cinema landscape awash with movie superheroes, A Private War celebrates a real life hero. Colvin’s rebellious spirit is both her kryptonite and her suit of armour.
This compelling story based on the life and work of American journalist Marie Colvin captures both the courage needed to report on conflict and a seemingly characteristic obsession towards a life on the precipice of disaster. Colvin was a terrifically talented journalist, her most notable work being as the foreign correspondent for UK newspaper The Times from 1985 until her death in 2012 while covering the battle of Homs in Syria. She was a workhorse, a humanitarian, a brilliant war reporter.
Director Matthew Heineman, in his first narrative work having made a name for himself as a documentary maker, reminds us of Colvin’s unrelenting determination to bring to the world’s attention the otherwise unheard voices of those caught in the crossfire. It is also a stark reminder of the value of good journalism and the importance of taking to task world powers, particularly in war zones.
In a cinema landscape awash with movie superheroes, A Private War celebrates a real life hero. Colvin’s rebellious spirit is both her kryptonite and her suit of armour, a trait captured by Heineman’s camera as he idolises this fearless journalist’s undiluted determination to seek the stories others can’t or won’t cover.
Rosumand Pike is strong in the lead role, allowing snippets of fragility to seep through Colvin’s eye-patched steely exterior. Pike has to find a way to deliver grief without sentimentalising, the graphic scenes of death in Sri Lanka and the middle east potently framing the tragedy before her eyes, her emotions held intact long enough to get the story to the world.
But there is an awkwardness to the scenes that try to give context to Colvin’s personal life, Heineman’s qualities better served to battlefield photography. Pike has to deal with portentous newsroom discussion and conversations at home akin to a half decent soap opera, her documented life out in the field proving to be both more interesting and better delivered. There was probably interest to be found in her behind-the-scenes interactions with friends, family and colleagues but A Private War can’t nail it as well as it displays the horrors she willingly puts herself into.
Written by Rory Fish
Directed by: Matthew Heineman
Written by: Arash Amel
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Tom Hollander, Stanley Tucci
Released: 2018 / Genre: Drama
Country: USA / IMDB
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A Private War is out now on EST, VOD, Blu-ray and DVD.