Film Review: A Private War (2018)

A Private War (2018) – IMDb

A Private War: Directed by Matthew Heineman. With Rosamund Pike, Alexandra Moen, Tom Hollander, Faye Marsay. One of the most celebrated war correspondents of our time, Marie Colvin is an utterly fearless and rebellious spirit, driven to the frontline of conflicts across the globe to give voice to the voiceless.

A Private War

Celebrated war correspondent Marie Colvin is a woman who is as comfortable downing martinis with high society’s elite as she is brazenly staring down warlords and fleeing from gunfire. Driven by an enduring desire to bear witness and give voice to the voiceless, Colvin charges into danger, constantly testing the limits between bravery and bravado.


A Private War (2018)

The media are often perceived as both friends and enemies to the general public. On the one hand, they provide updates on current affairs and keep us in tune with what is happening in the rest of the world. This is obviously of great benefit but the media can also be frowned upon for stooping very low in search of a good story no matter the impact it might have on those involved or their family or friends. There are many subdivisions in the media but Matthew Heinemann’s film, A Private War, focuses on those brave souls who head into the perilous war zones of the world in search of their stories and indeed the truth.

Marie Colvin makes many sacrifices in exchange for the truth

The film focuses on one journalist in particular, Marie Colvin, an American who worked for The Sunday Times in the UK for more than 25 years, and was primarily based as a correspondent overseas with the Middle East being one of the main areas she was assigned to. A Private War traces parts of Colvin’s career, including her time in Sri Lanka, before concluding with her 2012 visit to Syria to cover the conflict there. As well as Colvin’s work in the field, we gain an insight into her character, into her relationships and into the severe impact her job had on her personal life. Areas such as heavy drinking and PTSD are explored in the film, not to mention some truly brutal events that the journalist was witness to, be it mass graves, innocent children and families in hospitals, and brutal regimes showing no care or concern for their people. 

I knew next to nothing about Marie Colvin prior to watching this. Heinemann manages to explore many interesting aspects about her life, not just her exceptional bravery in bringing truth to the world but also dipping into the many demons that she had as a result of her work in the field. It’s hard to imagine anyone coming through the same kind of assignments unscathed. Rosamund Pike won praise for her performance here as Colvin and she is the film’s highlight depicting the journalist as both resilient but also vulnerable in the face of such cruelty and savagery she frequently bears witness to. However, the film is less than 2 hours and this proves to be its downside. It feels like it glosses over parts of Colvin’s life and story and consequently comes across as rushed in places. It’s certainly left me intrigued to learn more about her life but A Private War is just a decent enough place to start rather than being a definitive account. 


Verdict: Rosamund Pike shines in the lead but this biopic is more a summary rather than an in-depth look at Marie Colvin’s life and career.  `


My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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