A Private War – A Review Haiku

Written by Arash Amel
Directed by Matthew Heineman

SYNOPSIS

Marie Colvin, dedicated frontline reporter in multiple warzones, goes on assignments in Libya, Afghanistan, Syria and more.

HAIKU REVIEW

Directed With Care;
Oscar-Worthy Performance;
Harrowing War Scenes.

GRADE: A-

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

Journalism used to be one of the noblist and most respected professions, back when seeking the truth outweighed a desire for entertainment. In the era of “fake news,” the once-revered act of reporting what’s going on in the world is increasingly distrusted in the average house, which could result in less people wanting to enter the field. Because the truth hurts, and it takes bravery to find it and shed light on it. These dangers are exponentially amplified for frontline war correspondents trying to show the human toll of war and all its destruction. Marie Colvin was a shining beacon in dark places, and this film does a wonderful job of portraying her struggles and triumphs and delivering a message that leaves its mark without pointing any fingers.

Wisely, the script doesn’t waste time getting bogged down in the politics of war. True to the nature of Colvin herself, this is a movie dedicated to the idea of telling the stories, not spinning them. It is a sobering, often jarring look at the effects war can have on those who have dodged the bullets without ever firing any. Heineman directs his feature length debut with respect and care, avoiding exploitation and keeping everything grounded. Robert Richardson’s photography creates some great images (I especially liked the bookend nature of the opening and closing shots) and the two work together to make everything you see impactful, never more evident than when ybru are framing a war sequence. The way the camera always brings up the rear, following the action closely, crouching when the characters do so, mimics Colvin’s own behavior. The camera chases her at any cost the way she chased stories at any cost, including her own life in 2012. She was always looking for conflict so we wouldn’t have to, and that is treated as every bit the noble achievement that it is.

At the center of it all is an absolute home run performance from Rosamund Pike that is sure to put her in the Oscar race. Simply put, she is fantastic. It isn’t just her uncanny vocal impression, either. She puts an impressive range on display, brave in the face of mortal danger while coming apart at the seams in quiet moments and safe environments. Pike hits every note asked of her with precision, drawing sympathy from the audience that someone as strong as Colvin was probably wouldn’t even want. She dominates the screen and is worth the price of admission alone, and after being dropped into a busy time of year without much fanfare, I hope this movie finds its audience because she deserves to be watched.


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