Plamegate Gets the Somber Sean Penn Treatment in Fair Game
Adapted from Valerie Plame and Joseph C. Wilsons memoirs, the unsurprisingly validating Fair Game begins as a timeline-hopping international thriller of the countdown months to the Iraq War. Covert CIA operative Plame (Naomi Watts) and ex-ambassador husband Wilson (Sean Penn) are proverbial ships passing in the night, shuttling from Niger to Amman to Cleveland on fact-finding missions concerning Saddam Husseins nuclear program or lack thereofuntil Plames cover is blown in The Washington Post as apparent retaliation for Wilsons administration-critical New York Times op-ed. Retelling headline news in human fine print, Doug Liman makes a show of peeling back the layers of noise, cutting from televised shock-and-awe to ground-level impact in Baghdad, from cable-news talking heads accusing nepotism to domestic tension in the Plame-Wilson household, and, finally, from Watts to the real Plame. Realism means an underlit beige-and-gray palette, swinging handheld for firefight and dinner party alike, and plenty of kitchen-sink business, with the Wilsons rugrat twins always underfoot in domestic scenes. Penns lachrymosity and hotheaded indignity seem cartooned against Wattss contained convictionthough more incongruous couples have certainly existedbut the films assertion of Plame and Wilson as real people rather than characters consists mostly of draining them of anything compelling, so that David Andrewss Scooter Libby commands the single best scene.
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