One of the most celebrated war correspondents of our time, Marie Colvin is an utterly fearless and rebellious spirit, driven to the frontline of conflicts across the globe to give voice to the voiceless.
Marie Colvin was an award-winning journalist, famed for reporting from the frontline of warzones and for bringing stories of humanity amidst the violence to the front pages. Her focus was on the impact war had on civilians and she went to great lengths to tell these stories, often ignoring guidance for journalists to go into places no others would go, and ultimately this led to her death in Syria in 2012. ‘A Private War’ tells her story in the last 12 years off her life, covering that period and moving between Colvin’s reporting on the frontline and her time at home, whilst exploring the psychological turmoil caused by her experiences. It is an intense, often grim and unrelenting watch, but I was gripped throughout, in large part due to a career best performance from Rosamund Pike as Colvin.
This is Matthew Heineman’s first feature film after the award-winning documentaries ‘Cartel Land’ and ‘City of Ghosts’ and his filmmaking experience in areas of conflict transfers well to ‘A Private War’, particularly for the sequences in warzones. It’s a film that demonstrates the value of journalism on the front line as well as the dangers and the sacrifices it requires for the journalists involved, and punctuating some of the footage with Colvin’s narration was a sobering reminder that everything portrayed here actually happened. Rosamund Pike is outstanding as Colvin, perfectly capturing her mannerisms and her cadence (archive footage at the end of the film underlines this point), and we see both the steely resolve that drives her into these dangerous situations as well as seeing the toll her experiences have on her personal life and her relationships with friends, colleagues and partners. Alongside her, Jamie Dornan features as war photographer Paul Conroy and I thought his performance was compelling and understated, whilst Tom Hollander and Stanley Tucci are always welcome additions to any supporting cast.
‘A Private War’ has unfortunately gone under the radar amidst ‘awards season’ and it’s a shame that it doesn’t look to have found an audience (it hasn’t even made the UK Box Office Top 10) as I thought it was a superb, immersive piece of work with one of the performances of the year so far from Rosamund Pike. I’d highly recommend seeking it out if it’s showing anywhere near you.
Directed By: Matthew Heineman
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci, Tom Hollander, Corey Johnson, Faye Marsay and Nikki Amuka-Bird