This biopic follows the path of veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin. It swoops from one front line to the next, fighting its way past the cover of conflict to reveal what’s compelling Marie to put her life on the line, war after war. Colvin is a powerful figure and recklessly brave, but she’s also a mischievous rebel, who covers her vulnerability with a blasé façade. She’s Boadicea with an eye patch and a La Perla bra. And a person we must all meet, be it only in her film.
Rosamond Pike plays the part of Colvin, an American journalist who relocated to London. She was the chief correspondent for Britain’s most prestigious newspaper, the Sunday Times. She married three times but these entwinements had zero impact on her obsession for action and she would always be jetting off the tarmac within 24 hours of the first bomb hitting the ground.
Her daring took her to the heart of the battle because she knew this was where humanity was at its most sorrowful. It was her illumination of the human cost that gave her work intimacy and made her the darling of the media. She became a celebrity, surrounded by the awestruck, the wary, the concerned and some self-serving cheerleaders. The latter was lead by her ruthless editor, Sean Ryan, played by Tom Hollander. He basked in her reflected glory, and the newspaper ratings, that Maria’s intrepid reporting was bringing. He paid lip service to the existence of a caring side, but was never able to hide his consuming desire for hard-core narrative. In fact, he was the perfect dance partner for a reporter whose addiction was sated by danger. One of them would normalize the risk. The other didn’t care.
This story barely stops for breath as it races from Sri Lanka, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Libya and finally to Syria, as the city of Homs fell. As riveting as each segment is, it is indeed a race, and some moments jump too hastily from one climax to the next. Within minutes of landing in Iraq, Marie grabbed a photographer and announced that they were going to Fallujah, the epicenter of the war zone. The journey is filled with tension but we never learn how Marie got the tip that there was a story in Fallujah waiting to be told. We also don’t know how the crew navigated their way back through terrain infested with pro-Saddam militia.
The Syrian civil war has proved to be the most dastardly and long-running rebellion of the Arab Spring. The battle started with well-intentioned demonstrators giving voice to their discontent, but it grew into a monster that snapped and destroyed and left desolation in its wake. As the suffering continued, beating hearts broke as they waited for someone to save them, but that savior never came. Lost souls were left to perish alone. Just like the lady who came to tell their tale.
Aviron Pictures will release A Private War in the US on November 2, 2018; Italy November 22, Portugal and Greece November 29.