8*; A Private War (2018)

Journalist: Marie Colvin, January 12, 1956 to Feb 22, 2012
Photo Journalist: Paul Conroy
Director: Matthew Heineman
Based on Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner
Produced by Charlize Theron

This film’s cinematography is the modern template for a truly ‘you are there’ sense of place. The Killing Fields of 1960s Cambodia have spread — seemingly everywhere around the world.

See action at dirt level and sense the dust; hover around the bigger picture; deliver the explosive and evasive. But avoid letting the action chase the characters’ personalities into oblivion. This movie delivers all of that.

Rosamund Pike’s portrayal smoothly shows the irrational erratic nature of Marie Colvin. Jamie Dornan as Paul Conroy exquisitely balances the film by keeping one foot in reality while pursuing the same compelling risks. Character actors hit their marks throughout.

The weakest aspect is the story arc, which rarely reached the heights attained in scene depiction and character portrayal. Vignettes with moments of introspect amid masses of chaos lacked the words to sufficiently endear them.

I missed going outside the turmoil to hear someone elucidate the fear of entry into the fray. I sought a greater sense of decompression when disembarking the battlefield.

The director locked into the scenes of skirmish and minimized the nuances of normality; there was no Clark Kent for this film’s Superman (to gender-bend an analogy). The best writing was in Marie Colvin’s own words, especially when highlighting the necessity of humans to endure.

If tolerable of the R-rated sexual scenes and blood-and-guts, see this movie to be shaken and stirred.

*(star) rating in the title is mine; e.g. 7*=Seven Stars (maximum 10)

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