Saturday, 8 January 2011

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Fair Game [Review]


Opinion: B

There is so much raw factor going on in this film that it almost feels uncomfortably nerve-rattling. Adopting a high degree of adherence to the actual true life event that this film is based upon, it manages to achieve freedom of expression through the media of film and makes a bold statement about the misdoings that George W. Bush's administration has made over the Iraq war declaration.


A fascinating glimpse into the dark corridors of political power, Fair Game is a riveting drama inspired by the experiences of real-life undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose career is destroyed and her marriage strained to its limits when her covert status is exposed by a White House press leak.

Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts), a covert officer in the CIA’s counter-proliferation department, discovers that Iraq has no active nuclear weapons program, contrary to the belief of many in the U.S. government. Meanwhile, Valerie’s husband Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), a former ambassador to Niger, is sent by the State Department to Africa to investigate rumors of the possible sale of enriched uranium to Iraq. After the White House ignores Joe’s findings that no such deal took place, (along with at least two other reports that also confirmed the absence of any evidence of a uranium purchase) and declares war on Iraq, Joe writes a piece in The New York Times outlining his conclusions and ignites a firestorm of controversy.

Soon after, Valerie’s covert status is leaked to high-profile Washington journalists. Is it an unfortunate coincidence or a coordinated campaign to retaliate against her husband for his very public disagreement with the government? With her cover blown and her overseas contacts now left exposed and vulnerable, Valerie is pushed to the breaking point as her career and private life begin to implode. Friends become indignant, then distant. Valerie receives anonymous death threats and Joe’s consulting business dries up as a result of the concerted smear campaign against them. After 18 years serving the government, Valerie—a mother, a wife and a field officer with an impeccable record—now struggles to save her reputation, her career and her marriage.

Crackling with sharp dialogue, intrigue and heart-pounding suspense, Fair Game is the gripping account of one woman’s struggle to overcome a staggering betrayal and reclaim her life.


Director and Cinematographer Doug Liman (of the Bourne series fame) has brought his style of rawness back into the political film through his visuals and storytelling. We see generous amounts of loose handheld camerawork that is not afraid of swaying (yes, instead of panning) from subject to subject, suggestively implying how the general public reacts to subjective mass media reports.

The film begins with a chapter of Plame's work as a CIA operative, she performs her job like a disciplined agent who isn't afraid to step out of her comfort zone to get the job done. We get to see her intimidatingly breakdown her investigation subject like a professional, and then she appears before us as a loving wife to Wilson and a tender mother to her children.

There's really nothing wrong with the picture of Valerie Plame.

Wilson is sent to Nigeria on a task to ascertain the validity behind the rumours of Saddam's regime purchasing massive amounts of "Yellow Cake" uranium. It came back without substantial findings to back those rumours, but his reports were dismissed like a fly in the presence of a subjective Bush administration.

Now we really cannot determine what exactly happened back then within the administration, but here in this film President Bush is depicted as one who merely relied on non-credible intelligence that is forcefully fed to him by the will of Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, "Scooter" Libby. Played by an impressive David Andrews, Libby exudes nerve-wracking imperative authority through his interview scenes with the CIA analysts.

I simply don't buy the idea of Libby being the mastermind of all.

Besides politics, which can get boring after awhile, the subplot element of Plame and Wilson's marriage strikes deep at the audience's hearts as it is very well debated with the aid of Watts and Penn's convincing performance. Watts steps into character really accurately, as revealed towards the end where a television footage of the actual Plame is shown. Penn on the other hand, plays Wilson with so much fury and outrage that it is difficult to see how anybody can actually tame him down from his idealism of justice and social power.

The contrast between Plame and Wilson makes good material for a marriage reconciliation.

With a high degree of rawness and a bold intention to send a political message across in relation to the Plame incident, Fair Game presents itself to you in courage and liberalism without much holds barred. Adding on to the cause of the film are Naomi Watts and Sean Penn's cast performance, which might be the only attraction for those who are not drawn to political agenda.

(With special thanks: Preview screening courtesy of Omy.sg)


1 comment:

  1. I want to watch this film! :D

    hey, feel free to vote on my 2010 weekly movie poll . :) THX.

    ReplyDelete

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