Movie Review: A Private War


Rosamund Pike stars as the brave heart war correspondent Marie Colvin a biographical drama directed by Matthew Heineman. Here is our review of the movie based on 2012 article “Marie Colvin’s Private War” in Vanity Fair by Marie Brenner.

From CITIZEN KANE (1941) to THE POST (2017) and from ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930) to DUNKIRK (2017) the ethics of journalism and the human effects on war be it the World War, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, world cinema and Hollywood keeps on trying, sometimes they achieve success while sometimes they face failures. Many a times the proper perspective on conflicts becomes a challenge and when there is a plot that focuses on conflicts such as the Syrian civil war, the challenge gets intensively stiffer because there is no direct opponent and it swells further in case of an American mainstream movie cause it gets difficult to find an American ‘hero’ in such a scenario.

Here is where a perfect platform for the terrific Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin and documentary helmer Matthew Heineman gets created to give a universal push to the effects on war on humans and not just Americans.


 “I cared enough to go to these places and write in a way to make someone else care about It.” says Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike), the fearless war correspondent who told Colonel Gaddafi “You’re prepared to sink your country into civil war”. She interviewed rebel leaders, dictatorial rulers and covered the trauma of war on people, setting an example on the ethics of journalism. What motivated Marie Colvin fearlessly walk on fire knowing that one day it will take her under its wrap?.

Documentary director Matthew Heineman (CARTEL LAND, CITY OF GHOSTS) makes a solid feature film debut with commanding assurance in A PRIVATE WAR. Director Matthew Heineman knows what he is doing; there is a sense of remarkable timing and placing which is just brilliant. There is no attempt to sensationalize/manipulate the audience with the hard hitting potential of the subject. Matthew Heineman narrates a compelling story of Marie Colvin with fine detailing, the changes in technology over a decade of war reporting is brilliantly depicted.

Colvin, known for her fearless reporting and an eye patch which she jokingly refers as a gift from Treasure Island to her love interest Tony Shaw played by Stanley Tucci. Colvin reported from war zones in Syria, East Timor, Libya, Kosovo, Chechnya, Iran, Iraq, and Sri Lanka ( the ‘Treasure Island’ where she losses one eye), an eye patch and complains of PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) leading to hospitalization. But nothing could stop Colvin from reporting, the women of great ‘steel’ who after filing her last report from Syria on CNN, on the Bashar Assad bombing controversy was found dead.


She cared for humans and wanted to tell their trauma in the war effected zones, she risked her life to tell real stories, she use to get nightmares which she tried to ‘fix’ it with sex and booze, but neither the nightmares, nor her courage to say a story on the effects of war on people stopped.

The movie also remarkably highlights the contrast between the life of a bureau head/editor like Sean Ryan (Tom Hollander) as The Sunday Times’ foreign editor and an honest journalist like Colvin. One wants to ‘say’, the other wants to ‘sell’.

Rosamund Pike more popularly known as Amy Elliott Dunne in GONE GIRL where she played Nick (Ben Affleck) missing wife, gives her best till date as Marie Colvin. A performance that embraces the fearless grit and determination of the journalist who walked the edge, playing a human swinging between courage and vulnerability with tremendous conviction that is arresting throughout. No other actress could have given the justice to Colvin as given by Rosamund, maybe the incredible Meryl Streep if this was done some years ago, but seriously after watching Rosamund Pike , it’s no one else. Seamless.


We as a matured and caring human do feel and are aware that war only effects humans, we are with the pain, sitting in our comforts and may a times discussing the politics behind it with our choice of drinks, but never with the real sufferers over there who are in constant danger. Marie Colvin was there for us, risking her life to tell us the truth which came as a rising sun in our mornings in those news papers articles/stories that we read with our morning tea or coffee and went back to our world while she either battled her trauma or got engaged in saying another truth.



Movie Review: A Private War 2

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