Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Movie with Abe: Fair Game

Fair Game
Directed by Doug Liman
Released November 5, 2010

In current times littered with current events, stories are frequently ripped from the headlines. The story of Valerie Plame, a real-life CIA agent whose identity was revealed in a national newspaper article, was adapted in part for a character played by Vera Farmiga in the 2008 film “Nothing but the Truth,” which focused on the journalist who blew her cover. Now, Plame is front and center in this invigorating, infuriating dramatization of the events that led up to the exposure of her covert identity and what occurred in the aftermath. “Fair Game” is a poster example of a strong, effective political thriller that manages to provide suspense while still staying true enough to believable reality.

“Fair Game” is an extremely smartly-written film which imbues its characters with credible dialogue and complex relationships, indicated both by the language of the characters and the delivery by the actors. Starting from that standpoint rather than assembling action scenes into a convoluted plot later, the director of action flicks like “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “The Bourne Identity,” with the aid of screenwriters Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, has crafted an intelligent drama that still succeeds as a well-paced thriller. Additionally, the screenplay is based on books written by Plame and her husband Joseph Wilson, which allows its characters to tell their story from their own real-life accounts.

Playing the couple are Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, reunited after starring in the best film of 2003, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams.” Watts formulates Plame into a presentable, official government employee trying her best to keep her calm and maintain her sanity. Her spirited defense of her operations to her superiors and her actions to her husband are among the most compelling scenes in the film. Penn, by contrast, is uncensored and prone to outbursts, creating a fascinating dynamic between the spouses. His role feels very lived-in, and the two make for one electrifying and sympathetic pair.

“Fair Game” manages to tell its story reasonably and completely, adequately detailing the chronology of events so that someone utterly unfamiliar with the scandal can comprehend it. It’s an extraordinarily gripping film that should serve to stir up anger and rage in some viewers due to the evident injustice of events. That makes it just as effective as a political talking piece as it is a strong film. It’s part familial drama, part conspiracy thriller, and full, entirely watchable expose.


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