A Private War Theatrical Review
A Private War is haunting but does the life of Marie Colvin justice. It couldn’t have been easy but it was an important life and the film pays homage to the brilliant woman behind the faces of wars and conflicts all over the world.
Colvin worked for the British newspaper The Sunday Times beginning in 1985 until her death at the age of 56 in Homs, Syria. Eleven years earlier she lost her left eye while under siege in Sri Lanka. Instead of a deterrent, it served to strengthen her conviction to cover war stories. Some might have said she was crazy while others would have called her driven but whichever it was, she was certainly brave and courageous.
She watched as friends and colleagues were killed and she also suffered her own demons. Colvin was institutionalized for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at one point but after recovering went right back to the front lines to continue her work. In 2012 she went to Syria and, even after all other reporters evacuated, she stayed behind to reveal the lies being told, mainly that civilians weren't being targeted. After speaking with Anderson Cooper on CNN News she and her photographer Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan; Fifty Shades of Grey) attempted to leave only to be bombed. While Paul was severely injured, Colvin lost her life.
Pike is masterful as Colvin. She portrays her as strong on the outside while damaged underneath. The vulnerability makes Colvin seem somehow more human and Pike offers a range of emotions with a nuanced performance worthy of an Oscar nomination. Tom Hollander (Bohemian Rhapsody) is great as Colvin's Editor, Sean Ryan and Dornan offers more depth than we have seen from some of his more recent roles. The ensemble cast overall is strong, which is needed for this material. Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) also has a great cameo as one of Colvin's lovers and helps to reveal her softer side.
The script by Arash Amel (Grace of Monaco) gives some terrific opportunities for Pike to shine and to allow the audience to see a glimpse inside Colvin's psyche. Director Matthew Heineman (City of Ghosts) certainly doesn't shy away from the graphic images of war. His visuals are haunting and, I can only imagine, realistic. They are sometimes difficult but necessary to watch as they set the scenes. They help establish Colvin's frame of mind while she reports these atrocities and gives the audience some semblance of insight as to what these reporters deal with on a regular basis.
While watching scenes filled with mangled bodies and death – especially those of children - the candor with which the story is told and depicted helps set the stage incredibly well. The film portrays the complex woman very well and Pike does an excellent job of getting the feel of the film across to audiences.
The movie is haunting but does the life of Marie Colvin justice. It couldn't have been easy but it was an important life and the film pays homage to the brilliant woman behind the faces of wars and conflicts all over the world. Sadly, with her death, the innocent have lost one of their bravest warriors on a global stage.
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