“She was so rude,” the French journalist Edith Bouvier says of the war reporter Marie Colvin in “Under the Wire,” Chris Martin’s heated and harrowing account of Colvin’s last weeks. And while the movie is rightfully more interested in lauding her bravery than highlighting her sometimes abrasive personality, these small moments help to humanize a portrait that can at times seem more awestruck than enlightening.
Piggybacking on the recent release of the based-on-real-life drama “A Private War,” “Under the Wire” — sewn together from on-the-spot footage and interviews with colleagues — drops us into conflict zones with disorienting immediacy. Our primary guide is Paul Conroy, the plain-spoken British photographer who partnered with Colvin and was severely injured in the 2012 rocket attack in Syria that killed her and another reporter outright.
“We became soulmates,” he tells us, his emotional testimony dominating a movie (based on his book of the same name) that aches with bereavement. The final shot shows how deeply the trauma of his ordeal lingers, yet his still-raw memories of the bombardment of their makeshift media center in Homs — and his terrifying nighttime escape — also highlight Colvin’s occasional recklessness. Despite knowing the dangers of revealing their position, she had used a satellite connection to deliver a live Skype broadcast the previous day.
That said, the woman whom some colleagues declared “scarier than the war” and who called her French counterparts Eurotrash remains as mysterious as the politics behind the atrocities she witnessed. What we do know, though, is that’s likely how she would have wanted it.
Under The Wire
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Rated R for broken bodies and exploding bombs. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes.
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