By Ralph Linardic,
There’s few stories more interesting than war. How does going into war, or being around it and affected by it, change a person? Marie Colvin’s dive into the conflict in Sri Lanka seems like the perfect story to entertain while also educating the general public about events that they were unaware of. However, with war biographies, it takes a lot to stand out in the sea of them available.
A Private War is a perfectly fine story that fails to impress. In films like this one, the stories need to be told in a way that separates itself from its superiors. Take Hacksaw Ridge, that Mel Gibson Directed epic? While its story has been told time and time again, Gibson’s direction and flair is what made it an A+ film. Private War’s Director Matthew Heineman doesn’t help himself by going through the beats of every war/conflict film ever made.
Rosamund Pike’s take on Marie Colvin is what made the 106 minute run-time bearable. While the pieces around her don’t fit, Pike delivers a performance that should have her in the thick of things come Oscar season. She’s excellent in the David Fincher/Ben Affleck film Gone Girl, but this is the best she’s ever been. The subtleness and timing of all her scenes felt natural and in rhythm with the story around her.
I wish cinematographer Robert Richardson gave the movie its own identity. Through every wide shot and every close up of Pike and the locations, the film seemed to be only copying what came before. There’s nothing okay with putting shots together that, while not offensively bad, don’t give the movie its own recognition. Robert did a masterful job with Hateful Eight, and I wish that the care he gave to that film translated to this one.
This review will be shorter than most of articles, given the fact that I find myself uninspired to talk about a movie that failed to leave any kind of impression. Rosamund Pike is absolutely fantastic as Marie Colvin, but A Private War screams Netflix movie quality (and that’s not a good thing). I would wait to see this one on a streaming service or at your local $2 theater. It’s worth a one-time watch on a rainy day due only due to Pike.
2 ½ Stars