Review: Rosamund Pike tremendous in journalist tale 'A Private War'

As war correspondent Marie Colvin, Rosamund Pike gives a rich, masterful performance

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Rosamund Pike in "A Private War."

War correspondent Marie Colvin was addicted to getting the story, and that addiction eventually led to her death. 

Rosamund Pike is dynamite as Colvin in "A Private War," the frank, uncompromising portrait of the award-winning journalist who died while on assignment in 2012. 

"A Private War" doesn't paint an overly flattering picture of its subject; it's honest about the personal struggles she faced and the harsh realities of her private life. Director Matthew Heineman, making his feature debut after helming several documentaries (including 2015's "Cartel Land"), does her justice by delivering the truth in her portrayal, which is the ultimate tribute to the principles by which she lived her life. 

"A Private War" traces Colvin's fearless journey into war-torn regions where she'd embed herself in an attempt to get the story, by any means necessary. Jamie Dornan, freed of his "50 Shades" shackles, plays her photographer; Tom Hollander is her editor at London's Sunday Times, who encourages Colvin to take a step back from her work, to no avail. 

The film tracks Colvin for more than a decade, dropping in on her during various assignments between 2001 and 2012. Pike, deepening her voice to match Colvin's raspy tone, digs into the soul of her subject and her dogged pursuit of the story. She was deeply haunted by the demons of what she'd seen, but was unable to stop pushing herself further into the abyss.

"A Private War" doesn't ask you to understand the politics of war, only the human side. And it shows the toll war takes on people's souls, most of which it never gives back.


'A Private War'


Rated R for disturbing violent images, language throughout, and brief sexuality/nudity

Running time: 110 minutes