Journalism’s Greatest Hero

A Hardass Doesn’t Need A Hard Pass In ‘A Private War’

I saw the A Private War Movie. Rosamund Pike plays Marie Colvin, a war correspondent who, quite literally, died for our sins.  The action takes us to Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. This is essentially the opposite movie of Crazy Rich Asians.

Colvin speaks the truth that we dare not speak because we are having brunch. Boy, does she pay the price. She suffers from a bad case of PTSD, and then she goes blind in one eye, which doesn’t help things much. She deals with her PTSD by drinking too much vodka, smoking too many cigarettes, Having Nightmares, and, most distressingly, fucking Stanley Tucci in a bathtub. The film shows her nightmares in vivid detail, a nice comic relief from all the scenes of people in the world’s most wretched places being murdered by warlords.

A PRIVATE WAR ★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Directed by: Matthew Heineman
Written by: Marie Brenner (based on the Vanity Fair article “Marie Colvin’s Private War” by), Arash Amel
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Tom Hollander, Jamie Dornan
Running time: 110 min.


As Colvin, Pike acts powerfully with her remaining eye on awards. Jamie Dornan, as her photographer friend, shows he has more range than being able to kiss Dakota Johnson in an elevator. The war scenes have a you-are-there quality, gripping and vivid. But the scenes at the newspaper, where editors clutch their collars and say “the world needs to hear this” feel a bit self-congratulatory. As the narrative descends into madness and tragedy, you find yourself saying, “what drove this woman?” and “what time is dinner?”

The world applauds Jim Acosta for daring to call the President a poopy-head. But maybe it’s good to see something about an actually brave journalist who actually put her life on the line for freedom. All journalists are heroes in their own minds, but Marie Colvin truly fit the bill. She’s a hardass who doesn’t need a Hard Pass.

As this film vividly shows, Colvin became one of the world’s most screwed-up people because of her choices. She died alone in a pile of rubble. Assad proceeded to kill 500,000 more Syrian civilians despite her efforts.

Colvin never got assigned to the gardening page or wrote a wry column. She reported on the truth until it killed her. A Private War should be required viewing on day one of journalism school. Though it’s a Film Of Quality, I can’t imagine anyone else enjoying it much.

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Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of 12 semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. A Rotten Tomatoes certified reviewer for both film and television, Neal has written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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