Fair Game (2010)

Fair Game is Doug Liman‘s newest movie, based on the story of Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) is a CIA operative, working on Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Middle East at the beginning of the Iraq war. Even though her department is adamant about there not being any WMDs in Iraq, it’s their information that gets cited for the reasons of the Iraq war. When Valerie’s husband Joe (Sean Penn), a former ambassador, speaks up, suddenly Valerie’s cover is blown and she finds herself caught between a rock and a hard place.

Fair Game has excellent actors, a mediocre script and abysmal directing. That makes for a watchable, but also missable movie. The politics are interesting, but I didn’t feel like we got to hear something new. Maybe I’m too much of a cynic to be impressed by the utter assholery of the American government.

There’s nobody who does righteous anger like Sean Penn does righteous anger. [And I now understand that deadra says politically ranting men are sexy…] And he is in highest form in this film, almost eclipsing Naomi Watts’ more quiet performance. But only almost. The two of them make for an excellent show.

That makes it especially sad to see that the rest of the film isn’t able to keep up with them. The script – by Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth – meanders it’s way through the story, with some very nice moments (especially when it focusses on the Plame-Wilson marriage), but mostly it’s filled with too much pathos.

But it was Doug Liman who did the most disservice to the movie. His direction was unfocussed AND SOMEBODY GIVE THAT MAN A TRIPOD, STAT! Hand camera will probably be the death of film in general. [And it’s all Blair Witch Project’s fault.] But it was definitely a problem here. I understand that they were going for gritty realism but if you don’t have to, why do you make me and my inner ear that unhappy? [I have never, ever heard anybody say “handheld camera is so great, I just love to watch it!” You tolerate it in movies like Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield because it’s a fucking gimmick and it fits the story. You tolerate it in actual documentaries because they’re hard to do otherwise. But nobody actually wants it.]

Uhm, yeah. Got a little off track there. Sorry. It’s a pet peeve. Like fight scenes which are cut so quickly you don’t know anymore who’s hitting who.

But there’s not much more to say about the film. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are wonderful and the story is worth being told. The actual execution is rather unfortunate though.

Summarising: Oh well. Watch it if you must. But you can definitely wait for the DVD.

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