Fair Game (2010)

Fair Game (2010) — After helming The Bourne Identity about a fictional spy, director Doug Liman has plunged into the story of a real one.  If you watched the news in the past several years you’re familiar with the Valerie Plame affair (I wish I lived in a world where that sentence didn’t need the word “if”).  Long story short: she worked for the CIA as an undercover operative.  Her husband, Joe Wilson, wrote an op-ed piece taking issue with the government’s case for war with Iraq.  Administration officials leaked Plame’s name to journalist Robert Novak who went right ahead and published it.  Different sides have different takes on the events surrounding this.  This movie is based on the accounts of Plame and Wilson, so I’m sure things are left out  (though I have conducted little-to-no fact-checking research of my own, nothing in the movie is inconsistent with my previous understanding of events).  But I have said over and over (and will probably say over and over in the future) factual accuracy in narrative films is irrelevant next to good storytelling (like a certain World War II movie where the good guys kill Hitler in one of the great “fuck yeah!” moments of recent cinema… but back to Fair Game).  The movie is a pretty compelling political drama.  Naomie Watts is great as Plame, a woman who is good at what she does and horrified when it’s unexpectedly taken from her.  Sean Penn fares a little less well as Joe Wilson.  Penn plays Wilson as passionate and intelligent but not very likable.  I kind of felt like shouting at him “yeah we get it, you’re right, now just shut up.”  All in all it’s a very good movie about a fairly fucked-up episode of recent American history.

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