19 November 2018 | paul-allaer
Watch it for Rosamund Pike's possibly Oscar-contending performance
"A Private War" (2018 release; 110 min.) is a bio-pic about war correspondent Marie Colvin. As the movie opens, we are informed that Colvin began her career as a war correspondent for the Sunday Times in 1986. We then shift to "London, England 200" where she is seen fooling around, and then arguing, with her once (and future) husband. It's not long before Colvin is off to Sri Lanka to investigate an "unreported" war. In an unfortunate incident, Colvin is badly hurt and she loses sight in her left eye altogether, leaving her to wear an eye patch going forward, "just like a pirate" she mocks. Then by 2003, Colvin is off to Iraq... At this point we are 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing area, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from director Matthew Heineman, best known for his outstanding (and Oscar-nominated) documentaries "Cartel Land" and "City of Ghosts". While "A Private War" is not a documentary, it certainly has the feel of one, as Heineman brings us, matter of factly, what is was like to be a woman reporting on the worst of mankind, going in war zones where she was not wanted. "I am compelled", she remarks more than once when asked why she is doing what she's doing. She focuses on the true victims: women and children, the sick and the poor, the homeless and the starving. The movie is staged impressively as we witness many battle scenes and look in astonishment as Colvin dodges bullets buzzing by. But none of that would matter if it weren't for the convincing performance by Rosamund Pike, who looks quite a bit older in this role as compared to her actual age. This is the type of role that Hollywood typically loves to embrace and recognize, and I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Pike will get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Last but not least, couldn't help but notice the wonderful new tune "Requiem for a Private War", by Annie Lennox (it plays over the movie's closing credits).
"A Private War" premiered at this year's Toronto International Film Festival to positive acclaim. The Sunday matinee screening where I saw this at this weekend was attended poorly (3 people, including myself). Frankly, I don't see this playing in theaters very long. For that, the movie is simply too heavy and downbeat, even with Rosamund Pike's wonderful lead performance. But that doesn't mean this is not a good movie, far from it. I quite enjoyed it (insofar one can really "enjoy" heavy dramas like this). If you have an interest in what life is like for war correspondents in this day and age, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.