This text is replaced by the Flash movie.


Cinema DVD Book TV Other
Fair Game

Fair Game

Naomi Watts, Sean Penn

Total Film

April 2011

View Original Article

Link to Article on External Website

Director Doug Liman
Starring Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Michael Kelly
Cert 12A

Rating ****

In the age of WikiLeaks, the Valerie Plame affair – in which the undercover CIA operative was publicly exposed after her ex-diplomat husband Joseph Wilson ticked off the Bush White house by accusing them of lying about WMDs in Iraq – can almost sound quaint in hindsight.

Of course, it was anything but; Doug Liman’s skilful, well-constructed drama proves a timely reminder not just of one woman’s ruined career, but how a petulant administration abused its elected power with sinister intent.

Liman claims he set out to avoid the partisan divide of American politics (Plame and Wilson are villains in neo-con land) but, being based on their tell-all memoirs, it’s obvious where sympathies lie.

Yet Fair Game doesn’t gloss over its heroes’ flaws: the work-obsessed Plame (Naomi Watts) neglects her home life, while Wilson (Sean Penn) is an egotist whose bloody-minded bluster lands his wife on the shit-heap.

With much of Plame’s CIA activities still classified, the film has to play something of a guessing game. This has its pluses, allowing Liman to indulge in globe-hopping thrills and spin a subplot involving an Iraqi émigré plame sends on a covert mission that allows us to witness the nasty consequences of her defrocking.

The biggest minus, meanwhile, is that it’s hard to know where the truth actually lies. Watts delivers a restrained performance high on quiet seething and vulnerability, while Penn does what Penn does best: swagger with all his actorly might.

Liman, for his part, follows the blockbusting of The Bourne Identity and Mr & Mrs Smith with an unexpected twist on the spy game: a uniquely affecting human drama.

Liman juggles political intrigue with low-key domestic drama to polished, largely riveting effect. Great star turns, too.

Home | Interviews & Features | Reviews | Videos | CV/Bio | Contact | Sitemap