.For the majority of us, it’s impossible to understand what life is like in countries ravaged by war.  Even for those who don’t take our American lifestyle for granted, how can we relate to what our fellow humans are going through in cities where death and destruction is the norm?  The media covers many of these conflicts from a distance with what often looks like stock footage; faceless videos of tanks and missiles firing.  Without a human connection, these stories don’t carry as much weight as they should.  War correspondent Marie Colvin realized this, and understood that “people care most about people.”  This strong core belief is what drove her to go places no one else dared, speaking to both powerful tyrants and the victims of their attacks.  “A Private War” gives us snapshots of the last 12 years of her life, before being killed while on assignment.

The movie takes its title from the Vanity Fair article it’s based on, which was adapted for the screen by Arash Amel.  It’s a powerful script, the type which would be unbelievable if so much wasn’t true.  Many of the best lines and retorts Marie Colvin(Rosamund Pike) flings around are documented either in the article or video clips of her.  She was larger than life in so many ways, but it came at a cost.  She had problems with addiction, both to the rush of war reporting and to alcohol and cigarettes.  It became a vicious cycle of self-medication.  She had to report to feel alive but needed the vices to dull the pain from doing so.  When the possibility that she was suffering from PTSD was mentioned, a friend had to remind Colvin that she “has seen more war than most of the soldiers have.

“A Private War” is another one of those movies that’s perfectly cast and perfectly performed.  But, as can be expected, Rosamund Pike steals not just the show, but perhaps the year.  She disappears into her portrayal of Marie Colvin and has easily given one of the best performances of the year.  There’s little doubt she will secure an Oscar nomination for this role.

A film of this nature is never an “easy watch”, but thankfully this is not a “difficult watch” either.  With a runtime under 2 hours, and welcome bursts of levity, mostly via Colvin’s wry humor,  the film never wallows in misery for too long.   There are some horrific moments and the sobering sacrifice(s) Colvin made, but the story is one of inspiration and admiration.  If things are to ever get better on Earth it will be because of heroes like Marie Colvin.

A Private War