Review: UNDER THE WIRE Is A Thrilling Journalism Doc

FIRST IMPRESSION

While not perfect, Under the Wire is a fascinating portrait of war journalism and accurately shows the horrors of battle.
Directing
Entertainment Value
Technical Merit
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Under the Wire is a new documentary about war correspondent Marie Colvin and her photographer companion Paul Conroy. It follows the two as they travel into Syria during the Syrian Civil War with the aim of capturing the citizens’ anguish. Colvin and Conroy are also the subjects of the recently released biopic A Private War.

This documentary is certainly quite hard to watch at times. Real footage of the people involved in the war is used, and while the most graphic imagery is not shown, the film doesn’t shy away from showing the horrors of the war. Particularly disturbing was a sequence showing one of the field hospitals in which doctors use insufficient equipment in an attempt to treat those who have been injured. This shows the true impact of war on a country and its people, especially the everyday citizens who want nothing more than to survive in peace.

under the wire refugees

Much of the film plays out like a thriller. The movie is comprised of actual footage from the journalists’ experiences and interviews with the survivors, telling and narrating the story. This makes the it feel more personal since Conroy is telling the story himself. It also becomes all the more haunting because you are able to see the expressions of horror on Conroy’s face as he recalls what happened.

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The film also does a good job of establishing audience sympathy for the subjects. In our day and age, many people have a hard time trusting journalists. This movie shows Colvin and Conroy in a (deservedly) much more positive light. They risked their lives to inform the people of the world and advocate for those without a voice. That is a heroic deed that deserves a tremendous amount of respect, and the film gives that to them.

under the wire conroy

On the other hand, the movie doesn’t feel like it is giving adequate respect to the Syrians that made a positive impact. There were a few segments in which their contributions were highlighted, but these were few and far between. The only Syrians that were given any real development were the translator and one of the field doctors. Otherwise, the film seems to make the audience want to think that Syrians are either evil or victimized.

The documentary is very well-assembled, though. The war footage is gritty and well-integrated, contributing quite a bit to the movie’s messages. The interviews are also well-done, with solid composition and cinematography that makes them more interesting to the eye.

Overall, Under the Wire is an intense and well-made doc. Even though it may be a little too focused on the “white savior” in the situation, it still effectively captures the horrors of war.

Under the Wire is now playing in select theaters.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film; however, he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.