"Focusing on the Human Impact of War"
What You Need To Know:
A PRIVATE WAR shows the harsh realities of war. It convicts viewers to care about people affected by such horrors. Regrettably, the movie also has a darkness that puts all the pressure on humanity to redeem itself. A PRIVATE WAR has positive messages about bravery, truth and giving a voice to the voiceless as it honors Colvin’s memory. Colvin’s private life, however, lacks the hope and meaning she often wrote about in her reports. A PRIVATE WAR also contains extremely graphic content including brutal violence, sexual content, alcoholism, and a gratuitous nude scene.
A PRIVATE WAR is a brutal, realistic depiction of the life of renowned war correspondent Marie Colvin, who reported from the war zones in the Middle East from 2001 to 2012. While doing some of the most important investigative journalism, Marie struggles with her own addictions and demons as PTSD from exposure to so much war and horrors takes its toll. The movie has a lot of great messages about bravery, the truth and giving a voice to the voiceless as it honors Colvin’s memory. However, viewers are strongly cautioned against extremely graphic content, including violence, gore, as well as sexual content and alcoholism.
Based on an article recounting the struggles of her own life, A PRIVATE WAR follows famous war correspondent Marie Colvin during various tours of the Middle East in the early 2000s. From losing her eye in Sri Lanka, to the horrors of uncovering mass graves in Iraq and IED casualties in Afghanistan, her bravery and unwavering dedication to the truth led her to tell some of the most human stories during the crisis. Many viewers may remember Colvin for revealing the truth of civilian casualties in Syria in 2012 when the government claimed they were only targeting the military.
As the title would suggest, the movie is much more than a horrific recounting of a reporter covering wars in the Middle East. The main conflict of A PRIVATE WAR is not Marie Colvin’s survival in dangerous situations, but her survival after the fact. She deals with nightmares, alcoholism and various other addictions as she recounts all the horrors she’s seen. Her photographer and partner in crime, Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan), tells her that she’s seen more war than most soldiers and that she is addicted to being on the front lines. Yet, at her core, she has strong convictions and feels she has an obligation to humanity to tell stories about civilian casualties. “This is the rough draft of history. We have to find the truth in it,” she tells a colleague at one point. Her dedication to the truth, and to the humanity of those affected by war, lead her to take more and more trips to war-torn regions of the Middle East until it’s unclear what will destroy her life first – getting killed in combat or dealing with the aftermath.
A PRIVATE WAR stands out as an important movie with a story that deserves to be told, and it is told very well. Rosamund Pike gives a superb performance as Colvin. The movie gets to the heart of who Colvin was while honoring her memory. Marie’s bravery and convictions are truly inspiring as she remains dedicated to the truth and telling the stories of those affected by the conflict in the Middle East. Even after everything she sees, Marie continues to keep her convictions to give a voice to the voiceless. At one point, she comments, “The real difficulty is having enough faith in humanity to believe that enough people will care when your story reaches them.”
Especially for those who are called to love our neighbors and remember the “least of these,” the movie brings that harsh reality front and center, and convicts the audience to care about those affected by such horrors. Brutal as the movie is, it shines light on some important issues and realities facing the world today. Moviegoers who can stomach the violence and gore can view the movie as an honorable memory not only to Colvin’s work, but the people she wrote about.
Sadly, A PRIVATE WAR isn’t as dramatically inspiring as its themes. There is also a darkness to the story as Marie struggles to cope with all the horrors she sees. The movie ultimately falls into a humanist worldview, putting all the pressure on humanity to redeem itself. This worldview puts an enormous burden on Marie that she can’t handle on her own. Without hope of any way to cope, viewers are subjected to Marie’s downward spiral into superficial methods of medication including drugs, sex and alcohol. While her work was exceptionally meaningful during her life, her private life is lacking in the hope and meaning she often wrote about in her reports.