A Private War


























Rosamund Pike plays journalist Marie Colvin in A Private War (2018), directed by Mathew Heinemann and based on the Vanity Fair article "Marie Colvin's Private War". It reminded me of the book My War Gone By, I Miss It So (1999) by journalist Anthony Loyd, who covered the conflicts in Bosnia and Chechnya. He wrote about being addicted to the adrenaline he experienced in war zones and also his addiction to heroin, which would flare up when he wasn't in the midst of violence and chaos. In A Private War, Marie Colvin is drawn to war with the same junkie-like attachment, and drinks vodka by the quart when not on assignment. The film asks: Why do war correspondents do what they do? But the answer, for Colvin and those around her, and for us, isn't always clear. She's driven to tell the world about the suffering of civilians and to uncover truth, but at the same time her compulsion to witness for herself the horrors and put her life at risk alongside them seems to be the stronger force propelling her. Her boss, Sean Ryan (Tom Hollander), adds to this when he tells her:


"You see it so that we don’t have to, yes, but also because you couldn’t imagine a world in which you didn’t. No one in their right mind would do what you do, Marie. But if you lose your conviction, then what hope do the rest of us have?"


I thought the film was well made but probably more effective in portraying PTSD and the trauma of war than getting across the ethos of those who need to report from combat zones. Also, I don't recall seeing Pike act as strongly or passionately in her other roles. And the scenes in Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Syria appeared to me to have been constructed with a deep respect for accuracy in detail and realism.


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