Marie Colvin is never depicted as heroic but rather someone who is held together by the very thing which haunts her subconscious and drives that addictive personality.
Compellingly traumatic, emotionally visceral and unflinchingly honest is the best summation of this war torn travel log, which still barely does it justice. Charting the last ten years of war correspondent Marie Colvin, A Private War is spearheaded by Rosamund Pike who literally disappears inside this journalist. Her voice is ravaged, her opinions uncompromising and yet she carries an air of informed intellect beneath the bohemia and blood stains.
Directed by Matt Heineman who is best known for his hard hitting documentary style, A Private War observes the carnage whilst Pike’s performance underpins everything else. Such is her sheer embodiment of Colvin that others seem dormant in comparison. Only Tom Hollander and Jamie Dornan come close to matching Pike on screen, while an understated Stanley Tucci does solid work in a concise cameo. Location work which comprises of dilapidated buildings, bloodied victims and mortar attacks only add to the immediacy, while different conflicts time stamp the passing years.
This is a film about commitment and the cost that such drive has on an individual. War is a humbling, heart breaking and ultimately futile act which often leads people in circles. However the need to document, observe and inform lays at the centre of why people like Marie Colvin continue risking life and limb. A Private War is an unpleasantly stark reminder of what people can do to one another, whilst sporadic flashbacks illustrate what someone must experience in order to keep that information flowing.
For all its biopic pretensions Heineman has directed a mainstream political thriller with all the gloss rubbed off. There are no heroes in this film only individuals in possession of laudable courage and strength of conviction. Marie Colvin is never depicted as heroic but rather someone who is held together by the very thing which haunts her subconscious and drives that addictive personality. Yet in spite of these all too human flaws Colvin never plays the victim, backs down or sacrifices her principles under duress. A desire to tell the story, expose regimes and give voice to an oppressed people remain her defining characteristic.
In a time when print media continues its inevitable decline this film reminds us that language, communication and tangible news platforms still mean something. Imagination, carefully considered prose and a concise turn of phrase still carry more clout than any number of inflammatory internet headlines.
Written by Martin Carr
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.