|Still from Fair Game|
Based on the Memoir Fair Game by disgraced CIA Agent Valerie Plame, Doug Liman's latest film of the same title recounts the story which shook the United States seven years ago. Being one of America's most respected CIA Agents, Plame (Naomi Watts) completed many an important undercover mission prior to things going awry.
Plame's husband, Journalist Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) had journeyed to Niger, investigating the validity in claims of Saddam Hussein ordering weapons of mass destruction allegedly produced there, to be used against the U.S. After drawing the conclusion that no such deal had taken place, Wilson had refuted erroneous claims from President George W. Bush that the U.S. was in clear and imminent danger, referencing supposed evidence from the British Intelligence.
Wilson then took poisonous pen to paper and wrote a piece published in the New York Times in 2003, outlining some of his own direct findings from his time in Niger. Scooter Libby (David Andrews) who at the time was a part of the Bush Administration, held the title of Assistant to the Vice President for National Security. He proceeded to go on an all-out attack, discrediting Wilson for having been tipped-off by his wife Plame. This essentially sabotaged her career by unveiling her secret identity to the world. As a result of this, we see Wilson and Plame's relationship begin to fall apart as Wilson is determined to uncover the truth, while Plame struggles to cope with the controversy and attention she received so suddenly.
For the most part I enjoyed Fair Game v. much. Watts delivers an icy performance as would be required of a character whose livelihood depends on being under-the-radar. She shows a wide range of emotion especially at the film's turning point where her true identity is revealed; she breaks down emotionally with precise constraint. Never for a moment are we aware that we are watching a film, but instead feel that we are watching the real deal, thanks to some spot-on direction from Liman. Penn as always is outstanding in his supporting role, providing that perfect contrast of fire to Watts' ice. Fantastic, but not quite enough to eclipse some of this year's finer cinematic performances for Awards contention.
Where the film falters a bit is Screenwriters John-Henry & Jez Butterworth's insistence on making this a love story for the sake of a resolution, when this story really is so much more complex than that. Key details are neglected where it counts most late in the story in Wilson's fight against the White House. Regardless, Summit Entertainment's Fair Game is an important study of Corruption and Manipulation. At the end of the day, Justice prevails and this is what makes Plame's story is so remarkable; the film is now in Limited Release. Grade: A-