I hate that with true stories now you can just go onto Wikipedia to find out what happened to these real people and whether they die or not, completely spoiling most of the movie or ending. When or if I ever do that, I have to judge/review a film based on performance, cinematography, direction, etc. and I can’t outright hate it because it was my choice to do research on the real life person before stepping into the theater. A PRIVATE WAR tells the tale of real life American journalist Marie Colvin, one that got into very, very, very, very dangerous as fuck situations just to get the truth/story in conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and East Timor. Her life was on the line every time she did a story basically. The film covers only about a little over a decade of her life, from 2001 to 2012, her time on the front lines, somewhere in Syria, and the toll it was taking on her mind.
Rosamund Pike plays Marie Colvin, and it is easily her best performance ever, even beating Gone Girl from several years ago. She plays Marie as a very damaged, but brave, strong, and triumphant, individual, and when the movie plays footage of the real Colvin at the very end of the movie, the resemblance is uncanny. It’s astonishingly fantastic. Jamie Dornan also proves though that he can act and really didn’t want to be in the Fifty Shades movies, bringing some humanity to her main photographer friend, Paul Conroy. I do like that the movie, has a central focus between the years 2001 to 2012 and doesn’t do a whole biography of her career. Hollywood knows that you essentially can’t do that anymore, as ones that do are overly formulaic and boring. HOWEVER, the movie being just 106 minutes, I feel like I’m missing a lot of her life in that decade, that a lot of parts, tragedy, and destruction were cut out. She has a romance with Stanley Tucci’s character in the film, and even that I didn’t feel was fleshed out all that well. Stanley Tucci third billed on the poster, but essentially his role is just an extended cameo.
The war torn landscape and cinematography is actually really really good, you get the sense that she really is in these war torn areas. It’s a decent film, I was just maybe expecting more war torn stuff, more heartbreaking images to really show the impact of the horrors that goes on in these areas. Didn’t seem like there was truly enough, and some of the stories they are covering seem a bit unfocused for the audience to get invested, other than the characters in the film. Also, this movie is called A Private War, but the scenes we get of all this war truly effecting Marie Colvin’s sanity is few a far between. We needed to see her in that mental hospice a little bit more than what we were given. But the real reason to see this is Rosamund Pike’s performance. She’s amazing in this and if she happens to be nominated like she was with Gone Girl, it will be well deserved. This is a short review since basically it’s based on a true story/person kind of deal, and I explained the entire plot in one sentence above. You could skip out on this decent little movie by reading the Wikipedia page, but you’d be missing a great performance. Plus, it only covers a decade of her life, going to Wikipedia afterword could paint you a broader picture and make you appreciate the movie a little more.