A substandard biopic propelled by Rosamund Pike’s commanding performance, “A Private War” is a commendable portrait of the bravery, bravado & sacrifices that war journalists make on the front lines in their attempts to provide an honest, uncontaminated & first-hand account of the human cost of wars & conflicts.

A Private War tells the story of Marie Colvin, one of the most fearless & celebrated war correspondents who covered numerous conflicts all over the globe throughout her career to give voice to the voiceless. The plot digs into her rebellious persona, and covers her own struggles in dealing with the trauma that comes with the job.

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Directed by Matthew Heineman in what’s his feature film debut, the film plays very much by the rules and offers a fascinating insight into Colvin’s life & career but there is nothing about it that stands out from the norm. Despite the grim mood, it is lacking in tension and while the imagery is harrowing, it still fails to grip us on an emotional level.

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The decision to capture the emotional & psychological toll on journalists covering warfare from close up is a welcome one yet Heineman fails to execute it properly. Several events end rather abruptly, the narrative flow isn’t smooth at all, and there’s no compact structure to it. The gritty camerawork suits the picture but it doesn’t have that immersive quality to bring the viewers into the conflict.

A Private War

The only one really committed here is Rosamund Pike who delivers an outstanding lead showcase in the role of Marie Colvin but the characterisation part isn’t handled well enough to compel us to truly invest in her journey, not to mention that there are times when her decisions & actions come off as stupid instead of bold. As for the rest of the cast, they are not even worth a mention, and are more or less forgettable.

On an overall scale, A Private War features some gruesome, disturbing & harrowing imagery to illustrate the true cost of war but it is also as confused in its presentation as it is conventional in its approach. There is no build-up, no suspense, no sense of danger felt at any given time and the film as a whole fails to affect the viewers on psychological scale. Bringing nothing new to the table, A Private War is yet another middling entry in the genre, and is worth a view solely for Rosamund Pike’s strong act.


A Private War (2018) Links: IMDb, Wikipedia

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