A PRIVATE WAR

"Focusing on the Human Impact of War"

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Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

Summary:

A PRIVATE WAR is a brutal, realistic depiction of the life of renowned war correspondent Marie Colvin, who struggles with addiction and PTSD as she reports from the horrific front lines of the Middle East. A PRIVATE WAR has a lot of positive messages about bravery, truth and giving a voice to the voiceless. However, Colvin’s private life is lacking in the hope and meaning she often wrote about in her reports and the movie contains extremely graphic content including brutal violence, sexual content, alcoholism, and a gratuitous nude scene.

Review:

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.

Content:

(HH, Pa, BB, FR, LLL, VVV, SS, NNN, AAA, D, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong humanist worldview as protagonist does what she does in hopes of bettering humanity and has faith in humanity’s responsibility to each other, with some pagan themes such as a belief that “anything goes to take the pain away,” mitigated by some strong moral themes of caring for “the least of these,” giving a voice to the voiceless, and the importance of revealing truth, plus some references to the false religion of Islam and Allah;

Foul Language:
About 25 obscenities (including 18 “f” words), three exclamations of “Jesus Christ,” over a dozen exclamations of “Oh God” in reference to Allah, and a character flips off another character;

Violence:
Extreme scenes of war violence and gore includes several scenes of female war correspondent running through warzones with armed militants with bullets flying and bombs exploding, bomb explodes and leaves female war correspondent’s face bloodied and without the use of one eye, multiple disturbing sequences of Marie’s nightmares featuring warzones and the dead body of a young girl in her bed, three scenes of war correspondent coming upon hospitals with sick and injured civilians and refugees, a team discovers a mass grave in Iraq with skeletal remains of human beings, war correspondent describes the carnage of war in her articles with detailed descriptions of mutilated bodies, journalism team comes upon the wreckage of an exploded IED with numerous dead civilians, blood, and severed body parts, disturbing scenes of civilians dying in war zones includes small children, a scene in a medical center depicts an attempted surgery for a burn and a bullet wound, bloody and burned bodies depicted from rocket propelled (RPG) grenade blasts, and people line up to take selfies next to a dead, bloody body;

Sex:
Strong sexual content includes female war correspondent picks up a guy in a bar and they have depicted fornication, two drunk people kiss and wake up in bed the next morning, two people kiss in bed, female war correspondent meets a guy at a party who says he doesn’t have “one-night stands” but “sexual adventures,” a man in a warzone tells female war correspondent Marie that former Libyan leader Gaddafi ordered the rape of 1000 girls as punishment for the uprising that led to his death, and two characters take a bath together;

Nudity:
Full-frontal female nudity in one scene as war correspondent looks in the mirror, a sex scene depicts the naked silhouettes of two characters, war correspondent wears a slip in bed, female war correspondent changes shirts and her bra is shown, and woman’s bare back is shown as she takes a shower;

Alcohol Use:
Heavy alcohol abuse throughout the movie, female war correspondent is drunk in multiple scenes at home and at parties and at big events, characters accuse woman of being an alcoholic as a way to cope with PTSD, various other characters drink beer and wine (sometimes as a coping method), and female protagonist admits, “I’m most happy with a vodka martini in my hand, but I know the chatter won’t go quiet until there’s a quart of vodka inside of me”;

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Heavy smoking by multiple characters throughout the movie; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Themes of addiction as a way to cope with PTSD and numerous war crimes are committed throughout the movie.

In Brief:

A PRIVATE WAR follows renowned female war correspondent Marie Colvin during various tours of the Middle East in the early 2000s. From Sri Lanka where she lost her right eye, to the horrors of reporting IED casualties in Afghanistan and war crimes in Syria, her bravery, dedication to truth and compassion for people lead her to tell heartbreaking human stories. Yet, she struggles with nightmares, alcoholism and other addictions to cope with her trauma. What will destroy her life first: getting killed in combat or dealing with the aftermath?

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.