I usually try to avoid talking about myself in reviews because you haven’t clicked this article to read about me, you’ve clicked it to read about the movie. But sometimes I have to explain myself a bit so that you, the reader, can better understand where I’m coming from or why I may have liked or disliked something. So I have to preface this review with a bit about myself. When I’m not writing reviews, I have a full-time job in the news industry. So you might understand why a movie like A PRIVATE WAR managed to hit me on an emotional and personal level, more so than the regular viewer.
A PRIVATE WAR is a biographical film about Marie Colvin (Pike), who quickly worked up the ranks as a foreign and wartime news correspondent. But instead of starting there, the movie begins in 2001 when Colvin is maimed by the Sri Lankin Army. The attack happens while she’s embedded with a group that’s tracking a militant organization. An RPG blast by the Army during the attack causes her to lose sight in her left eye. Instead of retiring or changing careers, she throws on an eye patch and continues covering the horrors of the battle fronts she’s sent to.
When Colvin isn’t on front lines, she’s arguing with her editor or attending a lavish party with friends, with a drink always in hand. Sprinkled in these moments are visits with a psychologist, night terrors and other ill-effects of PTSD. The trauma, the death, the destruction and the horrific sights she endures are starting to catch up to her in her later years. So she ends up resorting to various bad habits to bury or blur the memories out of her consciousness. There are two sides to Colvin. The side that pushes for the truth amongst the rubble and the side that drinks to black it all out.
Pike turns in a tour de force as Colvin, baring everything. Pike is raw in nearly every aspect, physically, mentally and emotionally. Even an outsider would find it hard not to sympathize with Colvin, whose life seemed to be stuck in a perpetual loop of covering war and dealing with her own private Hell in her downtime. It speaks volumes to what some journalists continue to endure every day. It also helps broaden the public’s view of just how prevalent PTSD is.
While A PRIVATE WAR is mainly focused on Colvin’s sacrifice as a journalist, it’s also subtly about the souls of those involved not only in journalism, but at the heart of every war. The film’s third act takes place in Homs, Syria. Even if you knew nothing of Colvin, you probably know where the film is headed when Colvin packs her things for Syria. For nearly eight years, at least at the time of this writing, Syria has been paralyzed by civil war. It’s in the film’s final act that Colvin’s demons are silenced as the peril Colvin constantly puts herself in catches up to her.
A PRIVATE WAR is wonderfully shot, beautifully acted, and tragically captivating. A tremendous effort was put forth to capture the essence of Colvin, as well as a reminder that journalists put forth a lot of blood, sweat and tears to capture the stories of those embroiled in war overseas. There’s some heartbreaking about that fact that Colvin’s life appears to be in vain. Colvin endured Hell to try and show us the aftermath of an oppressive regime. Yet that regime still has a firm grasp on millions of lives and billions around the world continue to shrug their shoulders.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 1:85:1) The blu-ray captures the picturesque torment of Colvin’s life.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Nothing wrong with the audio.
Becoming Marie Colvin (3:45): A brief, but straight-forward feature about Pike’s performance as Colvin.
Women in the World Summit Q&A (9:52): The audio on this is more hit than miss, despite the interesting tidbits in this. Director Matthew Heineman and other actors from the movie talk about the film, as well as Colvin. I really wish the audio wasn’t so scratchy and low in spots.
Requiem for A PRIVATE WAR (1:31): An incredibly short feature about the song written for this film.