Updated: May 12, 2020
I'm rather embarrassed about not knowing the incredible true story of war correspondence Marie Colvin before starting this film. There are some movies you watch that stay with you for hours, as you pose question upon question to your own self conscious about ideologies you have just learnt. Matthew Heineman's movie 'A Private War' does exactly this. The plot resolves around Marie Colvin's hardship and dedication to journalism in her the reporting about war around the globe for British newspaper 'The Sunday Times' until her death in Syria 2012.
It's great to see a major feature exploring a females story in war. Before this one, 'Zero Dark Thirty' and 'Sicario' are the only two films that explored stories of woman soldiers in lead roles. If you've seen 'Gone Girl' you would know of Rosamund Pike, and her somewhat cold and villainous character she portrays on screen. This is, by far, her most outstanding performance. She plays the confrontational and abrupt journalist fantastically. It was interesting to see how the director showed her post traumatic stress rising, explored through flashbacks of innocent murdered children, you had a sense of how deeply distressing it must have been for her to witness. I thought the scenes in Syria and Sri Lanka were engaging due to the highly realistic explosions and great post production work. The most powerful scene was the final one in Homs. As Marie is on the phone to CNN about the current issues there, you were able to witness the truth behind the phone call, and what she experiencing in front of her eyes. I thought the film did a great depiction of this to involve the viewer all the way up until her death.
Jamie Dornan didn't quite work for the role as Paul Conroy in the film, perhaps because his accent wasn't quite right, but he came across rather deflated in scenes. It's difficult for the director, when exploring true story narratives, to get the right balance of assuming the audience already knows the tale, and over explaining it to them. In this instance, I don't think the director gives us enough information about the relationship she has with other characters in her life. I would have been interested to understand more about Marie and Tony's relationship, as well as her family.
A rather challenging film to take on as a director, so I salute Matthew for being bold enough to create Marie's voice in this film - with some harrowing scenes about terrorism - it's a wonderfully filmed war movie. I feel it portrayed exactly what it needed too, giving a message to the viewer about the shocking truth behind the difficulties civilians are facing through war, one that Marie was, for so long, pushing to show.
On Netflix or WATCH IT HERE