A Private War (2018)

I completely forgot about A Private War but then an old lady I know said it was worth seeing and since we apparently have similar tastes —I suggested her Cold War and she loved it— I checked it out. 

The story follows Marie Colvin (Rosamunde Pike), an American journalist who worked as a foreign affairs correspondent for the British newspaper The Sunday Times from 1985 to 2012, the year of her death. Alternating between brief moments of Colvin in war zones to cover a story and equally brief moments of Colvin celebrating her journalistic accomplishments with her bosses, the film shows how Colvin was personally affected by the horrors of war.

The main issue with A Private War is the utter mess the film has instead of a plot. While narrating the life story of Colvin, the film tries to capture the psychological and emotional trauma of being a war journalist, seeing horrible things so that someone else doesn't have to —as Colvin says at some point— but the filmmaker's approach to the story —it keeps jumping back and forth between past and present— is quite confusing and the story is never as compelling as it should have been.

The same goes for the main character, that of Marie Colvin, as she is a bit underdeveloped because of the continuous, rather confusing storyline jumps. It's difficult to care about her or to truly understand, or feel what Marie Colvin is going through. There's another character, freelance photographer Paul Conroy, that isn't nearly as developed as he should have been. The other characters aren't even worth mentioning as they are quite flat.

The acting, on the other hand, is quite outstanding, specifically from Rosamunde Pike who gives a stunning performance as Marie Colvin. She delves deep into the psyche of the journalist, she captures Colvin's fearless and rebellious spirit as well as her voice and conveys her emotional damage. It's not Gone Girl good, but it comes pretty close to it. As for the supporting cast, Tom Hollander provides good support in the role of Sean Ryan, The Sunday Times' editor, and Jamie Dornan is not terrible in the role of the photographer.

Aviron Pictures
As for the direction, Matthew Heineman probably wasn't right for the job. In his feature debut —he has only directed documentaries before—, Heineman's direction is uneven and kind of boring, unable to build up momentum for the most powerful scenes in the film which end up being flat. Ultimately, A Private War isn't a complete disaster of a movie but, given Heineman's background as a documentarian, I was expecting it to have a much bigger emotional impact on me.


  1. Yeah the structure is kinda all over the place here but it's still one of the better things Pike was in lately :/ I always get so happy when Tom Hollander shows up in movies because I adore his work in The thick of It, In the Loop and About Time so much

    1. I can't believe I still haven't seen The Thick of It 😮