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A Private War: The Perfect Balance

When making a movie about real people and real events, it is very easy to pick a hero and make the movie about them. But, achieving the perfect balance between delving into the character of a hero, as well as tackling the surrounding events is rare, and A Private War is one of the few films that hits that mark perfectly.

A Private War covers late real-life war correspondent Marie Colvin’s life and career, how her experiences on the job influenced her personal life, and what the events she saw said about humanity, governments, and truth. The film follows Colvin (Rosamund Pike) across the globe from one war zone to another as it tells two stories in parallel; the story of Colvin’s struggles, and the story of a world that will probably never stop struggling.

As the film’s plot takes the audience from one war to another in the not so subtle transitional manner that it does, audiences start to realise that the war zones eventually all look the same. Guns, dead bodies, starving people, and violence all reoccur over and over again in each war zone to show the audience that the reasons, the names, and the context can change, but the suffering is the same. This leaves audiences traumatised after every encounter in each war zone due to the marvellously compelling and realistic shooting, scripting, and acting in the film.

The war scenes in the film were so realistically shot that the audience completely forgets that this is a movie, that these are actors, and that this is not happening right now in front of their eyes. It also helps that these sequences are based on true events and that these wars happened, which puts the audience in a front row seat of what the wars they only heard about in the news actually looked like.

A Private War successfully sidesteps a landmine where Arabs would all be the same or would all be terrorists, as well as having journalists all be scoop-hungry, unethical zombies. Instead, the film sticks to a rather balanced view of people as neither angels nor demons, but a mixture of both.

A Private War also emphasises that Colvin was going to war zones and reporting because she feels compelled to record the people’s suffering as “part of history”, as well as her own addiction to such ventures to see things for herself.

For the acting, Rosamund Pike nails this role and quite frankly deserves an award for her performance. Pike portrayed a real character and made sure that the three-dimensionality of her character was right up there on screen all the time. Pike was able to convey all the tough exterior moments of her character and also excelled at the rare vulnerable moments that her character apologised for.

This is not a happy movie and you will probably be a bit traumatised afterwards, but it tells not only the reality of one courageous war correspondent, but also the reality of what humanity has become.

Like This? Try

Zero Dark Thirty (2017), G.I. Jane (1997), Megan Leavey (2017), Carve Her Name with Pride (1958). 

360 Tip

The film set the world's record for most cigarettes smoked in one movie.

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