Fair Game

DIRECTOR; Doug Liman

STARRING; Naomi Watts, Sean Penn

The true story of Valerie Plame-Wilson, a CIA agent whose identity was leaked following her husband’s criticism of the war in Iraq.

When a film makes you angry, it is not normally a good thing.  Take Hereafter for example, a film so muddled that it destroyed any good ideas, a film by a director who, although great fell into the trap of playing to generic racial stereotypes when a deeper approach really wasn’t that hard to see.  Fair Game made me angry, though not for its ineptitude of story, dialogue or direction.  Fair Game angered me because it is a true story, a true story that it is unbelievable that it could have, and was allowed to happen.  Indeed it reminded me of another Clint Eastwood film, Changeling, which also shows a woman whose life was torn apart by a corrupt higher agency, in this case the White House, through no fault of her own.

The major flaw of this film is that you become so engaged in the plight of the central character that the scenes showing her informants in Iraq basically being hung out to dry by her superiors become less engaging as we want to return to the lead character.  It is also hard to engage with Joe Wilson.  It is easy to agree with his motivations for his actions originally, as he plainly was wronged by the White House.  However, as he continues his unwinnable conquest against the men in power, his actions are more portrayed as self publicizing than for his original means and he seemingly forgets what his real motivation is, hence the safety and security of his family.

 Naomi Watts is excellent here, and is the best I have seen her since she broke through in Mulholland Drive.  She shows the turmoil well not only at what is happening to her and her family, but also the turmoil that what is happening to her is being caused by her husband, and her interactions with Sean Penn are very realistic.  Penn is less convincing.  He overacts rather spectacularly and tries to steal every scene that he is in, often succeeding, further accentuating the Naomi Watts performance by her shining through this.  Penn appears to be using this as a Party Political Broadcast for the Famous Hollywood Liberals, and I could have done without this.  Where the film succeeds is by not casting household names as the villains of the piece, making their actions even more shocking.

Fair Game succeeds in angering but is not a successful film.  There is too much personal agenda and the material would probably have worked better as a documentary than a feature film with A-Listers.

Joe’s Rating - 2 out of 5