Title – A Private War (2018)
Director – Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land)
Cast – Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Tom Hollander, Corey Johnson, Stanley Tucci, Fady Elsayed
Plot – The true story of famous war correspondent and fiercely determined journalist Marie Colvin (Pike) and her journeys in some of the most dangerous hot spots in the world.
“I see it, so you don’t have to”
Review by Eddie on 05/08/2019
Since 2014 British actress Rosamund Pike has delivered two of the most well-rounded and haunting female lead turns thanks to her role in David Fincher’s now classic thriller Gone Girl and the criminally underrated western Hostiles.
Both films stripped back Pike’s performance to nothing but raw power and emotion and established the long-standing actress as one of the finest performers working today.
Further adding to that string of impressive turns is Pike’s awards nominated lead performance in 2018 drama A Private War, telling the tale of renowned war correspondent/journalist Marie Colvin in a highly dour and politically charged drama from documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman.
Based on Marie Brenner’s well publicized Vanity Fair article on the life of Colvin and her daring exploits to seek the truth out no matter the personal cost or danger presented to her, A Private War paints Colvin as a fiercely determined woman who was hell-bent on doing the best job she possibly could in the most harsh and unforgiving surrounds imaginable.
It’s a meaty role and a highly unglamorous one for Pike but as she has proven in the past, its one she is entirely up for.
Masked under an eye-patch and rarely seen without a cigarette in her mouth (or a comb to brush her wild hair with), Pike is outstanding inhabiting the hard as nails Colvin and brings a warmth and believability to her turn but despite her best efforts, Heineman’s film is unable to keep up with its leading lady as it struggles to give the energy and emotion needed to really bring Colvin’s life to the forefront.
There’s a lot happening here as Colvin enters various war zones, enacts upon various relationships and deals with both an abundance personal traumas and more public breakdowns but A Private War feels merely like a scattering of various key scenes of her life, not so much a heartfelt or engaging account of a life that was anything but ordinary.
It’s a real shame, as Pike’s turn deserved a film that was able to match her powerful portrayal but A Private War never quite clicks into the next gear needed for Colvin’s unbelievable life to become the feature film prospect it deserved and it’s not hard to see why, despite Pike’s noteworthy work, that Heineman’s feature failed to reach a mass audience upon release late last year.
Final Say –
An incredible woman portrayed by an incredible actress, Colvin’s tale in A Private War has its moments but overall lacks the heart or soul needed to make this eye-opening account of a world class reporter a must-see feature.
2 ½ grave sites out of 5
When it comes to realism so real you can feel gravel between your teeth, A Private War makes The Good, the Bad and the Ugly look like a Gene Kelly musical. I agree that the portrayal of Colvin is piercingly excellent. Yet the movie as a whole is somewhat difficult to watch because the protagonist seems almost self-destructive in her determination only to cover stories that are most likely to result in violent death.
I just felt like emotionally this film lacked severely and also in execution it felt like nothing more than a procession of scenes leading towards an inevitable end. Lacked the heart and soul to make it work.