We all have bad days at work. Whether it’s a day full of technical issues, a day stuffed with meetings or just a day during which you’re going through hell. Next time you feel like you’re just always so “busy, busy, busy” or you’re complaining about it, well maybe you should keep the story of Marie Colvin in mind.
As an American war correspondent for The Sunday Times, she has seen more bloodshed, pain, and grief than any of us, but all she could care about was her job and the people she met in war zones. Her remarkable story has now been brought to screen by director Matthew Heineman (“City of Ghosts”, “The Third Man”) and the result is a remarkable and human but devastating film lead by the impeccable Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”, “A United Kingdom”)
Whether or not you are familiar with the story of Colvin (Pike), you instantly know that her time in Homs in 2012, will play an important role in her life as the movie counts down to that very moment. While showing “the peaceful life that could have been”, it becomes clear that she’s prepared to give that up for the love of her dangerous job.
All she wants is to document the barbaric lives of people during the civil wars in the most dangerous countries and to show the world what wars and shady politics really do. She has seen carnage, massacre, and wars from close by but sadly it was only a matter of time before she came too close. The devastating result: PTSD and the loss of one eye.
While most of the journalists would have called it a day, Colvin goes against all the advice she receives and decides to go back to the war zones. In need of a war photographer, she encounters Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan). As a former soldier with the Royal Artillery, he knows the battlefield like no other and together with Colvin, he gives the war and its devastating consequences a human face for the entire world to see. However, no matter how many wars she capturing during her professional life, Colvin is still battling her own overwhelming “private war”. A war that might be the worst she has ever faced…
While this movie is about war, don’t expect to watch just one bombardment after the other or one shootout followed by another. No, it’s not all loud bangs, bullets, and guns. On the contrary. What does stick with us from this film are the quieter and silent moments. It’s during these scenes that the human emotions and stories from the war are coming through even more. The insecurity of what will happen, whether the last bomb has just fallen but also the grief and uncertainty about survivors are what rule during this film.
Of course, these up close, personal and true stories wouldn’t be anything without the actors delivering them. She might not have earned as many nominations as she did for her acting performance in “Gone Girl”, mostly because of the very strong competition this year, but Rosamund Pike is captivating as the fearless, furious and stubborn Colvin. Pike can stand her ground in this masculine film as perfectly as Colvin could stand hers during the war, a man’s world too.
You might have seen him as Jim Beach in “Bohemian Rhapsody” or as Gary in “Birdbox” and this time Tom Hollander shows his very fine acting in a bigger role this time as Sean Ryan, The Sunday Times’ foreign editor and Marie’s boss. No pleasure but rough times during the war for Jamie Dornan (“Robin Hood“, “The Fall”) who’s supporting Pike in the best way possible as the carrying and yet determined Paul Conroy.
If you know the life of Marie Colvin before watching “A Private War”, yes then this film becomes predictable towards the end. However, that doesn’t mean that it becomes dull or sluggish as the film wasn’t too long or too short. Colvin’s story was told as it should be in an intriguing and mesmerizing film led by the astonishing Rosamund Pike.