By John H. Foote
Again a performance is the driving force of this biopic dealing with hellion war correspondent Marie Colvin. Famously killed in action in Syria, Colvin was a fearless woman, one of a kind. More and more we are seeing great female performances, they are dominating the Oscar race at the moment, as well as keeping TIFF interesting.
Rosamund Pike is extraordinary as Colvin adding to her growing array of brilliant performances and I hope Oscar bound for Best Actress. I love it when an actress tears into a difficult role and soars with it, Meryl Streep has done it so many times and each one is thrilling to watch. Pike did it with Amy in Gone Girl (2014), seething with hatred for her husband, for men I think and possessed of the most frightening stare I have ever witnessed in a film. She was frankly, terrifying.
Last year she was here with Christian Bale in Hostiles (2017), a superb Western that was somehow passed over by the Oscars, missed entirely when it was in fact one of the happiest surprises of TIFF 2017. As a frontier woman who watches her husband and three children massacred before her eyes, she was remarkable, ferociously avenging them and finding her own sense of peace by the end of the journey.
As Marie Colvin she is again superb.
Capturing the whiskey and cigarette soaked rumble of a voice of Colvin, the intelligence, the fierce concern for human rights and justice at all costs, it is a towering performance that elevates the film in every way. When she loses an eye in a firefight, there is concern that she cannot again do her job. Nonsense, she huffs, puts on an eye patch which she wore the rest of her life and went right back into war torn places around the globe.
Oh that the film were as god as the performance.
We have a director making his feature debut, though he has made some documentaries before, and good ones. But a feature narrative film is very different than a doc, he needs a cohesive story and needs to keep it moving, because the moment the narrative stops, so does the film and so does our interest.
With a well written screenplay and a director such as Scorsese, Spielberg or Kathryn Bigelow this would be a great film, a great film biography because she is a great subject.
As it is we have a strong performance in an otherwise ordinary film. Since seeing it I have thought only of what could have been, a shame because her performance really is magnificent.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.