“Fair Game” Movie Review

11/23/2010 Posted by Admin

“Fair Game”

Movie Review

Directed by Doug Liman, written by Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth, based on the books “Fair Game” by Valerie Plame and “The Politics of Truth” by Joseph Wilson, rated R, 108 minutes.

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

In 2003, the story of outed CIA operating officer Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson rocked the country, commanding national headlines and bringing the couple a groundswell of criticism.

Doug Liman’s biographical thriller “Fair Game” presents Plame (Naomi Watts) and Wilson (Sean Penn) as an odd couple of sorts -- Wilson’s an outspoken political powder keg ready to explode at a moment’s notice, while Plame remains calm and restrained even when provoked.

After Wilson returns from Niger with a report detailing the impossibility of Iraq purchasing uranium yellowcake from the African country (information that went ignored by the White House), the U.S. is led into war and Wilson’s outspoken nature gets the best of him. He writes an OpEd for The New York Times poking gaping holes in the Bush administration’s justification for war in Iraq.

In doing so, Wilson builds a house of cards against the country’s most powerful politicians, and it collapses when White House officials leak his wife’s identity as a CIA operative, leaving Plame’s personal and professional life in ruins. Her duality that had once put a strain on their marriage begins to tear it apart.

While Plame herself tries to fly under the radar, with surprising loyalty to the CIA, Wilson takes another road, campaigning and riling up crowds. He garners some friends, but a lot more enemies (daily death threats included). The quasi-normal life for the Wilson household breaks down on every level.

Watts has the far less showy role of the two leads in Plame (much of her struggle is internal). It’s Sean Penn who stands out yet again, completely losing himself in the role of Joe Wilson, bringing a fire to the story that the audience craves. It’s something the actor has spoiled us with over the years, and it’s a performance worthy of an Academy Award nomination.

Director Doug Liman presents the material under the guise of a political thriller, though its agenda is front and center, using clips of the media’s most infuriating (and gullible) talking heads. Each one generates the desired audience reaction.

Behind its purposefully raw, yet polished hand-held camera work, “Fair Game” presents some pressing political questions. Who, exactly, is the country trusting to gather intelligence? Why does the public seem to listen to the loudest speaker? Why do misinformed (or uninformed) leaders make the most important decisions?

I’m sure Joe Wilson would be more than happy to provide some answers.

Grade: B+

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