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Film Review: 'A Private War' Reports Real News About Fake Leaders

by Todd A. Smith


Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike) and Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan) (L-R) fearfully drive through a war zone in “A Private War” (Photo Credit: Aviron Pictures).


Real News, Real Problems 



People hate journalists.

People do no trust journalists.

A certain person calls anything negative about him, even when it’s true, fake news.

And crazy people believe his foolishness, which is baffling in and of itself.

However, without journalists many people would die and no one would know about it.

Without journalists, many atrocities like brutal dictatorial rule and oppression would remain unknown to the masses.

And without journalists holding politicians to account f0r their misdeeds, many world leaders would run amok without anyone to check their transgressions.

For this reason, some consider journalism to be the fourth branch of government because without media members exposing the horrors of life, human existence would be even scarier for the have nots, underdogs and forgotten members of society, living on the margins of life’s existence.

In “A Private War,” based on a true story, Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike, “Hostiles”) is not the old-school woman with no opinion, who is satisfied with staying barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

Marie chooses the field of journalism to make a difference by telling the stories of the forgotten and victimized even if that zeal puts her in danger behind enemy lines in war torn countries.

Her war coverage for a London newspaper leads to awards and a cult following of fans.

However, it also leads to her internal struggles with PTSD, alcoholism, nicotine addiction and the inability to maintain healthy romantic relationships.

Very few think about all of the benefits that society receives because of journalism, and the danger and stress reporters have to endure to report the truth.

But, “A Private War” shines a light on a controversial industry that is totally necessary to maintain freedom and democracy.

In “A Private War,” Marie once had everyone’s dream life.

She had a booming career in her dream profession.

She had a supportive spouse.

And she had plans to start a family.

However, as anyone with a hectic career can attest, the stresses of life can ruin all plans for the future and ruin the present as well.

Marie suffers two miscarriages.

She divorces her husband, a fellow journalist who has turned to the less stressful occupation of novelist.

Nevertheless, the former couple still has friends with benefits understanding.

However, with those benefits does not come influence.

Her ex-husband warns Marie to slow down and not place herself into any more danger.

Unfortunately, telling Marie not to cover war torn parts of the world is the equivalent of telling a fish not to swim or a dog not to sniff.

It is just in her DNA, even if she loses parts of her DNA in war.

Marie travels to places like Sri Lanka, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya during some of the most difficult days those countries have ever seen.

But she feels like if she can tell the stories of the voiceless victims of brutal regimes, she can influence people around the world to lend a helping hand to their brothers and sisters around the planet.

Unfortunately, telling those necessary stories come at a price and everyone in Marie’s circle can see it but her.

Actor Malik Yoba of “New York Undercover” once asked rapper/actor Tupac Shakur if he had a death wish when a “New York Undercover” executive producer brought in Shakur for a potential guest appearance on the hit 1990s show.

Marie’s friends, family members and colleagues should have asked her the same question numerous times throughout “A Private War” because it seems only an insane person would constantly put themselves in danger like Marie did.

Even the best journalists in the industry labeled Marie’s decision-making as crazy in spite of giving her numerous awards and accolades for her splendid work in the media field.

“A Private War” represents a complex character working in a complex profession that many people do not fully understand.

While Marie’s loved-ones admire her credentials, they would not be loved-ones if they sat and watched her fall into the abyss of stress and addiction.

Marie seems to not be able to function without smoking a cigarette.

She’ll take time to light a cigarette even if bombs and missiles explode around her and her crew.

And while war reporting presents its obvious dangers, Marie is brave enough to make her job even more dangerous, venturing into areas of the Middle East especially dangerous to foreigners.

Pike plays the stressful work in a great way with shaky hands and all.

Furthermore, “A Private War” boasts some good performers like co-star Jamie Dornan, who plays Marie’s dedicated and doting photographer who also puts his life in danger so that Marie can tell the stories that the world needs to know.

But what makes “A Private War” victorious in battle is its focus on the importance of real journalism.

While Marie’s editors want her to play it safe and write nice pieces like gardening stories, she refuses.

Although “positive” stories might make breakfast, lunch or dinner more digestible, those stories are truly unimportant and inconsequential.

Although real news is often “negative” news, reporting on the negativity of the world can sometimes lead to the positive.

In America, the story of Hurricane Harvey devastating Houston led to positive stories like neighbors helping neighbors and the Houston Astros using the pain of the people to inspire the team to its first World Series in 2017, a storybook ending to a roller coaster year in the “Bayou City.”

However, the back and forth from war zone to London seem a little abrupt in “A Private War.”

Furthermore, the countdown in “A Private War” has been done before in other movies.

Therefore, something more innovative should have been used in the countdown to the climatic conclusion of “A Private War.”

Although nothing innovative exists in the “A Private War” timeline, the film is much needed when leaders have their followers convinced that if news reports portray a certain somebody in a negative light that it is fake news.

But fake people cannot recognize the real and real journalism is not the enemy of the people, they are advocates for the people.


They are just the enemy of wannabe dictators the world over.






This article was published on Friday 09 November, 2018.
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