Movie Review: A Private War

It’s not often that a movie grips you and takes hold of you. A Private War depicts the life of heroic war journalist Marie Colvin. It’s spellbinding. So what makes A Private War one of the most compelling and gripping movies you must see this awards season? Check out my breakdown:


The film is about war reporter Marie Colvin. A real-life journalist who traveled to the world’s most dangerous regions to report on war conflicts. The movie follows the years leading up to her most challenging and dangerous correspondence in Homes, Syria.

Colvin’s journey is fascinating. She traveled the world without any hesitation in covering the most hostile situations. Director Matthew Heineman doesn’t shy away from depicting the raw and gruesome aspects of war.


Rosamund Pike absolutely transforms herself into Colvin. Pike has a great reputation and resume full of memorable roles and films, but her portrayal of Colvin goes right to the top. This coming from someone who loved her in Gone Girl. She’s spectacular in this film on multiple levels.

The physical transformation is noticeable. Pike changes her voice fluctuation and voice to resemble that of Colvin. It’s noticeable. For the majority of the movie she wears an eye patch, which she makes look (no pun intended) easy, but it’s anything but easy.

Pike is engrossed with Colvin’s fearlessness. It’s evident that Pike was fully committed to her character portrayal of Colvin. This is exactly the sort of role and performance that will get Pike nominated for an Oscar.

Speaking of transformations, credit Jamie Dornan for his portrayal of journalist and Colvin’s friend Paul Conroy. Gone are the days of the Christian Grey character and enter a subtler, relaxed and authentic actor playing a real life war reporter. This is the sort of role that allows Dornan to show his versatility as an actor.


Stanley Tucci also stars in the movie and delivers his usual great work, while making it look easy. I have to mention Tom Hollander, who plays Colvin’s editor, Sean Ryan. Hollander is so natural in the role, that you almost lose notice of him. That’s a compliment to his skill.


It’s pretty evident that they didn’t shoot this film on a sound stage. It has a gritty authentic look that can only be duplicated if it was filmed on or near the real locations in the Middle East. Locational shooting is an important key to making a movie of this kind feel real and take you into that world.

The sound is what it needs to be in a war movie. It’s loud with gunshots and sounds of explosions that make an impact by keeping you on-edge while you’re watching.


It’s hard to keep your eyes on it, but equally hard to keep them off the screen. The graphic nature of war is very much included in many scenes. Human flesh makes more appearances than you’d hope to see.

This is as raw and in-your-face of a movie as you’ll see. Heineman definitely leaves a taste of a documentary filmmaking style and look in this film.

The actor performances are hard to ignore. This is a professional cast with performances to remember. The look, tone and feel of the movie are worthy of capturing the audience’s attention and keeping it.



If you have a sensitive stomach, you might wanna avoid it, otherwise, this is a must-see movie. Colvin’s story should be recognized and respected. She was a brave heroic woman that contributed to society with her journalistic work. You definitely want to see Rosamund Pike give a performance of her career, along with Dornan taking on a role and character you wouldn’t expect him to.

I loved the how the authenticity and continuity were presented. As the years move forward, you can see the age and strain wear on Colvin. Pike’s teeth turn very yellow, hair turns grayer. Physical wear on her body appears on her face. The details of how Colvin’s image changed over the years of war coverage says more than words of dialogue. It’s a jarring visible change that’s noted and helps you get a perspective on the toll these assignments were taking on her.

A Private Was has to garner some serious awards buzz. It’s a well put-together script with a plot that is captivating. It’s one of the more startling movies this year that will surely talked about in the month’s leading up for all the fantastic aspects it delivers on. The scenes of violence and gore are justified, if they are done in a necessary manner, like in a movie of this caliber. See it and appreciate the effort and honesty that Colvin’s story is told with. When it comes to biopics and war movies, this one is right up at the top.


  • Oscar worthy acting from Rosamund Pike
  • Engrossing and compelling story
  • Authentic and raw feel


  • Gory, gruesome and grotesque images

GENRE: Biography, Drama, War


RUNTIME: 1 hr 50 min 

RELEASE DATE: November 9, 2018


For more on A Private War and interviews with cast and filmmakers

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