UNDER THE WIRE
Reviewed for Shockya.com by: Harvey Karten
Director: Chris Martin
Screenwriter: Chris Martin based on Paul Conroy’s book “Under the Wire:Marie Colvin’s Final Assignment.
Cast: Paul Conroy, Marie Colvin, Wa’el, Ziad Abaza, Janine Birkett, Julian Lewis Jones, Karine Myriam Lapouble, Nathan Dean Williams, Anne Wittman
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 11/12/18
Opens: November 16, 2018
President Trump implied that Senator John McCain was not the hero most of us thought he was, implying that despite the five and one-half years the man spent in a Vietnamese cage, Trump prefers people who do not surrender. President Trump also said that the media are the “enemies of the people.” Both of his opinions are not only false but mean-spirited, going beyond what a politician should be comfortable about saying whether campaigning or playing to his base after the election. Take POTUS’ latter point: if the media are the enemies of the people, what should we make of the fearless war correspondent Marie Colvin, who received the equivalent of a purple heart by losing an eye thanks to a Sri Lankan rocket propelled grenade, an injury she sustained while covering the civil war between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The patch became a trademark, her picture landing on the publicity campaign for both “Under the Wire,” a documentary, and the narrative film “A Private War.”
In fact she turns Trump’s view on its head. Her reporting of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in 2012 in the province of Homs is all in the service of alerting the world to the Assad’s scattershot brutality, not fighting simply terrorists but waging full-scale bombardments and shelling of the area though its principal occupants are civilians. We can regret only that despite the service she performed, there has been no change of government in Syria, no major actions by the United States to get Assad out of the way thereby joining his fate with Gaddafi’s. There have been just a few shellings here and there by Israel when Syrian troops allegedly crossed the border into Golan while Russian, ignominiously, has sent jets to Syria in support of its government.
The documentary finds American war correspondent Colvin and her trusted British photographer Paul Conroy crawling through a tunnel as part of a desperate attempt to cross from the Lebanese border into Syria—a site that might remind cinephiles of a similar crawl made by Central American refugees heading toward California in Gregory Nava’s 1983 movie “El Norte.” The photographer caught live action scenes, a shelling that appears to go on and on with just one brief stoppage to allow the Syrian Red Crescent to transport the wounded to hospitals—a sinister ambulance at that. Conroy, with her experience in Sri Lanka under her belt and another jaunt to Libya where she met with Muammar Gaddafi, she heads into the firing range in Homs . She is more than “one of the guys,” shouting profanities, smoking, insisting that she was here to stay so that the world would understand the brutalities of this government. Though we know that Colvin was to be killed on February 22, 2012, we should find the film sometimes creating considerable tension in the viewer.
Though this is a documentary as opposed to the narrative treatment in “A Private War,” Paul Conroy’s book “Under the Wire,” published in October 2013 and available on Amazon for under $6, is brought vividly to life. One can imagine the treatment that Colvin and Conroy would have received from Assad if captured, pulling out fingernails would be just a start.
99 minutes. © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B+
Acting – B
Technical – B+
Overall – B+