One can never explain passion or obsession in any logical term. And those who are possessed by either of these may actually come to grief, as the American war correspondent, Marie Colvin, did. Best known for her roles as a sociopath in Gone Girl, and the Rock star Sunday Times reporter in Girls of the Sun, Rosamund Pike plays the protagonist in Matthew Heineman's A Private War – part of the ongoing 40th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival.
Pike is once again a journalist here, daring to walk into some of the most hostile war zones to write heartrending stories about the sufferings men, women and children face there. Colvin is zealous about her mission – ignoring the warnings of her friends, family and even her editor – hoping that her despatches will make a difference to the world.
As her editor said, no one in his or her right mind would do what Colvin did, and it seemed sheer madness when she went to Syria – where hardly any journalist had dared to step in. She sent a moving, damning report from Homs – to reveal that women and children were being targeted by the Syrian regime. Hours later, she lay dead. An invaluable life lost, though not before Colvin had shaken the world with her stories, which exposed the government there.
Earlier, she lost her eye while she was reporting from the rebel Tamil territory in Sri Lanka, and thereafter moved around with a black patch. In the movie, she once jokes that she lost her eye on Treasure Island! Colvin walked into places that saw the Arab Spring, into Iraq and Afghanistan.
A Private War is based on a true story – on Marie Colvin, who in her roughly decade-long career achieved the kind of success no other journalist had. The film is not just dramatic, but also moving – giving us a feel that here was a woman whose sole focus was to tell her readers how cruel some wars were, and how futile, because they invariably kill the innocents.
(Author, commentator and movie critic, Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Cairo International Film Festival)