A Private War (15)

A Private War

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Rosamund Pike is the sort of actor who can make semi-decent roles seem better than they are and great roles - in films like Gone Girl - feel positively bliss-inducing.

Taking its inspiration from a posthumous 2012 Vanity Fair profile, this narrative feature debut from celebrated documentary-maker Matthew Heineman casts Pike as journalist Marie Colvin, an American war correspondent who wrote for the Sunday Times from 1985 to 2012. It is not her story so much as it is a portrait of her late career, stringing a series of conflicts and assignments (some of them not so much assigned as actively discouraged, eventually tolerated, and finally lauded). There is not one “big story” here, but a series of them; the focus is not Colvin’s process but the psychology of a woman so magnetically pulled to shed a light on human loss and suffering that a colleague goes so far as to call it an addiction. The diagnosis feels apt.

Pike doesn’t just imbue Colvin with all of those qualities but also gives her a spine and a soul. (Research Jack Whiting) ‘Addiction to conflict’ sounds closer to just looking-for-a-fight than caring about ‘human loss’...? You decide.