Fair Game (2010)

Posted: March 17, 2011 in Movies

“Fair Game” is an unintentionally perplexing film. Strongly written about a potent and still-relevant subject, smartly directed by Doug Liman and forcefully acted by Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and a carefully selected supporting cast, it seems to be doing everything right but still doesn’t manage to leave you with a completely satisfied feeling.

Certainly, “Fair Game’s” subject matter is inherently dramatic. It relates the ripped-from-the-headlines story of Valerie Plame (Watts), a covert CIA officer who found her cover blown and her professional life destroyed by “the most powerful men in the history of the world.”

According to the script by Jez Butterworth and his brother John-Henry, that would be the men in the Bush White House, key operatives like Karl Rove and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, men who placed Plame in their cross hairs to divert the public’s attention from her husband, Joe Wilson (Penn). He’d had the temerity to suggest that the administration was in effect cooking the books and ignoring critical facts in its zeal to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

With Saddam Hussein now long dead and the American military focus shifted to Afghanistan, this may sound like so much ancient history, but the reverse is true. Now that we know that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the extent to which we were manipulated into a needless war that continues to wreak havoc in our world is more rather than less disturbing, like a perpetual nightmare that gets worse each time it replays in our minds.

In fact, the hitch in “Fair Game” is that the nakedness of what was publicly done to Plame and Wilson may be more compelling than the filmmakers counted on. They chose to focus much of their efforts on how having the White House gunning for the couple affected their personal relationship, but they shouldn’t have. The story was on the other aspect of this film.

Though that dynamic is of interest, it is frankly dwarfed by the outrage you have to feel at both the misuse of governmental power and the pro-war propaganda offensive, and that unbalances the film. The way that Plame was considered, in Rove’s words to Chris Matthews, “fair game” in a world of brutal realpolitik is so disturbing it overwhelms the personal drama that accompanied it. If you want to get – or already are – angry with your government and its deceitful ways, watch this movie. You won’t be disappointed.

IMDB: Here | Download (AVI): Here

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