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Fair Game
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Doug Liman

Written By:
Jez Butterworth, Joseph Wilson, John-Henry Butterworth, Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame

Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Satya Bhabha, Bruce McGill, Sam Shepard, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Brooke Smith, David Denman, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Remy Auberjonois, Noah Emmerich, Iris Bahr, David Andrews, David Warshofsky, Anand Tiwari, Tim Griffin, Sean Patrick Reilly, Philipp Karner, Kristoffer Ryan Winters, Geoffrey Cantor, Naeem Uzimann, Harry L. Seddon, Deidre Goodwin, Tricia Munford, Jesse Daly, Sean Mahon, David Rickabaugh, Ben Mac Brown, Marshall Factora, Kevin Makely, Rachel Konstantin, James P. Anderson, Kevin Cannon, Ben Hauck, Takako Haywood, tanzeel Kayani, Jesus A. Del Rosario Jr., Nicholas Sadler, Kenny Shapiro, Ken Sladyk, Patrick Michael Strange, Darly Wanatick, Angela Lewis, Scott Takeda, Bill Walters, Danni Lang, Ashley Gerasimovich, Chet Grissom, Rebekah Paltrow, Anastasia Barzee, Melody Weiss, Byron Utley, Judy Maier, Quinn Broggy, Nicholas Glekas, James Moye, James Joseph O'Neil, Kaipo Schwab, Khaled Nabawy, Sunil Malhotra, Liraz Charhi, Satu Rautaharju

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Fair Game (2010)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
November 6th, 2010

'Fair Game' is, thankfully, not a remake of the steamy 1995 action-thriller with William Baldwin and Cindy Crawford; it is a dramatization of the events surrounding the exposure of Valerie Plame's identity in a Washington Post article, based on two separate books, from Plame herself, and her ambassador husband Joseph Wilson.

Those familiar with the case will not learn much from the movie, which is solidly acted and handsomely shot; director Doug Liman brings a raw urgency to nearly every frame, and the story is presented without a lot of excessive detail. Plame (Naomi Watts) is a veteran CIA operative working in various locations around the world; she has learned to master the art of deception, and, blend in with her surroundings, constructing many false personas.

Only Wilson (Sean Penn), and her parents (Sam Shepard and Polly Holliday) know anything about her real career, which is absolutely critical, and is a carefully guarded secret. When George W Bush announces that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Wilson disputes the claims, and accuses Bush and his senior officials of dishonesty. Wilson, of course, knows the truth, as he went to Niger to find evidence of this very thing, and came back empty-handed.

This causes a firestorm, and, as an act of revenge against Wilson, Plame's cover is blown, and her life endangered as a result. This puts a strain on her marriage, causes her lose many friends, and ruins her personal and professional reputation. Liman and his screenwriters stick to the basic facts, and bring nothing new to the table, except perhaps for criticizing those in the White House who abused their power, and manufactured a series of elaborate lies to sell an unpopular war to the American public, and then orchestrating a cover-up of their complicity in the Plame scandal.

Many have said that this explains the fate of Scooter Libby, who was thrown to the wolves by his superiors (like Dick Cheney), and indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2005. With the prosecution of Libby, those above him who made all the important decisions, found a scapegoat, and the matter was considered officially closed. While periphery characters are richly drawn, inevitably the film gains the most strength from its two central performances, by Watts and Penn, who both deserve Oscar nominations.

Sean Penn is, of course, known for his liberal political views, and his disdain for the Bush administration, so his involvement is perhaps not surprising, but he really appears to understand the man he is playing; his Wilson is passionate and stubborn, refusing to back down in the face of intimidation, and interested in truth and justice. Watts's gripping portrayal of Plame is that of an intelligent and determined woman, who seems willing to accept her situation and try to move beyond it, and start a new chapter in her life.

It may divide audiences along partisan lines, even though Liman avoids making any explicit political judgments. If this is an indictment of certain Bush officials who shall remain nameless, then it is a very soft one, and it does generate as much outrage as it probably could have. The impact of the scandal can still be felt, and it continues to raise a lot of significant ethical and legal questions, which have yet to be addressed, or answered, properly.

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