Note: This is a spoiler-free A Private War movie review
The terrors of war have often been portrayed in Hollywood. Many have attempted to show the external terrors, and many have attempted to show the internal terrors. Some have attempted to do both. Few have done it as well as A Private War.
A gripping performance from Rosamund Pike coupled with the horrific portrayal of war-torn countries around the world, A Private War shines a unique light on the trials and tribulations of war.
Simply put, the story of Marie Colvin is one that deserves to be told. An international war correspondent for the London Sunday Times, Colvin was daring, ambitious, and fearless in order to get the story no one else could. She was also incomparable in her field at putting word to paper, which made her the best war reporter of her time.
That’s a lot of superlatives to bring to the big screen, and Rosamund Pike nails it. Pike brings you right into Colvin’s world and mind over an 11 year period. The bull-headed drive and determination to go where no one else will is powerfully performed. The dry humor coupled with excessive drinking and smoking in order to cope with her life is evident. The physical and mental demons are on display. She is constantly battling in a war that is, well, private, to everyone except her closest inner circle.
The mark of a great performance is when you lose the actor and see only the character. That is exactly what happens here. Pike is a flat out force in A Private War.
A Not-So-Private War
As Marie Colvin shows the internal struggles of war, the external struggles are showcased in countries like Iraq, Lybia, and especially Syria. A Private War does a great job of retelling these stories years later, as the country’s natives and reports alike lived them. You’re right there, in the back seat of a pickup truck with bullets and bombs flying around you. It’s somehow thrilling and tense at the same time.
All of Matthew Heineman‘s directing chops are on display in the final 20 minutes of the film, which take place in Syria. This is clearly the most dangerous place Colvin has been, and Heineman makes sure you know it. The scenes in Syria will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end — it’s a riveting payoff to a movie that builds to a singular moment.
If you consider dialogue and character development “slow”, the war scenes will bring you right back in. They alone are a reason to see the film.
Should I see A Private War?
A Private War works as a war movie, a biopic, and a thrilling drama all at the same time. It has a good pace and stays entertaining throughout.
It’s not exactly a happy story, so if you’re looking for a fun night out at the movies you may want to look elsewhere. But if you want a quality story told really well, A Private War is for you.
(Featured Image via ComingSoon.net)