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Parents' Guide to

A Private War

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

War violence, language, nudity in mature biopic.

Movie R 2018 106 minutes
A Private War Poster Image

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Is It Any Good?

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This is a solidly made drama powered by an award-worthy performance by Pike. Not only does the Oscar nominee (for Gone GirI) completely de-glam herself and convincingly convey Marie Colvin's unstoppable drive and deeply conflicted nature, but her vocal impression is startlingly accurate. (To hear and see the real Colvin for comparison, stick around through the credits.) Along with Viper Club, A Private War helps audiences better understand the risks of conflict journalism. Colvin earned her standing as one of the best and most courageous in her business (Foreign Press' Journalist of the Year, three British Press Awards as Foreign Reporter of the Year), filing from Libya, Chechnya, Kosovo, Sri Lanka (where she lost an eye), and other locations.

But the most compelling part of this drama is the titular private war within Colvin. Repeatedly subjecting herself to some of the worst things humans can witness in some of the most terrifying of environments, she suffers debilitating PTSD and self-medicates. Nevertheless, she persists. Director Matthew Heineman is an award-winning documentarian (City of Ghosts, Cartel Land), and he brings a solid storytelling eye to Colvin's story. There's no need to pump up the drama, given how perilous her job actually was and how she struggled to hold on to her relationships and her sanity in real life. Fortunately, Heineman doesn't resort to the usual bag of dramatic tricks; he lets his star take the wheel and careen through the final years of Colvin's fascinating life.

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