A Private War – Review

Title: A Private War
Director: Matthew Heineman
Genre: Drama, Action, Biopic.
Main Cast: Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Faye Marsay, Tom Hollander.
Runtime: 110 mins.
IMDb rating: 6.7/10.
My rating: 8.5/10.
Quick summary: Marie Colvin was a fierce human being, a fantastic writer and journalist and a woman at war with her own demons. She saw many battles while fighting her own. Which would be the end of her?

A Private War (2018)


Marie Colvin (Pike) loses her eye in a Sri Lankan ambush after interviewing a rebel leader. She journeys far and wide to the most war-torn places, trying to let the wider world know the human side of conflict; the innocent civilians that are caught up in the bloodshed and violent chess games that more powerful men play. She constantly puts herself in the most dangerous places, risking life, limb and eye to get the stories out there that people need to hear.
We follow Marie all over the world to places like Liberia, where she interviews Gaddafi, and the Syrian city of Homs that is under constant siege. The bullets rain down and the ceilings cave in as Marie lets the trauma she has witnessed take control and drive her to the edge. Her photographer, Paul Conroy (Dornan) is a strength beside her but he cannot save her from herself. A results-driven and unsympathetic editor at her newspaper doesn’t allow her to rest and take a break, ultimately driving her towards destruction.

Rosamund Pike, Raad Rawi, Jamie Dornan, and Emil Hajj in A Private War (2018)
Conroy, Colvin and Gaddafi


There is not much hope or happiness present in this film. What it does do is it brings a human perspective to the table regarding war. It is easy to look at an article online or in the paper about a conflict far away and brush it aside from your mind. We already have enough to worry about don’t we? This film reminds us that we are all one race. Our brothers and sisters are out there dying in rubble and decimated rural lands and we are safe. But, if we know more about it we can possibly do something, or spread the message that it is not OK.

Rosamund Pike is superb as Marie Colvin. It was surreal to see the real Marie in an interview at the end of the movie and realise that Pike had absolutely nailed her voice. She spirals throughout the movie. She reaches depths that no person should ever reach but she is constantly reminded of the plight of others through her work. Pike portrays this hollow existence superbly. We feel helpless for her and know there is no saving grace for this fallen angel.

Dornan suits the look of a war photographer. His Liverpudlian accent may have slipped a few times amid the bombs and the debris but he looks the part.

Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dornan in A Private War (2018)

This film also raises a lot of valid points about mental health and how sometimes it is OK to ask for help or step away. People may use you for your own benefit. Sometimes the truth is more impportant than your own safety. Sometimes you have to pay the ultimate price. Most of the time, though, people have ulterior motives.

This movie was based on the Vanity Fair article written by Marie Brenner in 2012. It has inspired me to read more about Marie Colvin’s life and to read the original article. This movie is not suitable for a Friday night at home relaxing. It is something you should watch knowing that it will stay with you. And isn’t that what all great art should do?


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