Film review: Fair Game

Fair Game
River Road Entertainment, Participant Media, Imagination Abu Dhabi Hypnotic

STARRING Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Bruce McGill, Brooke Smith, David Denman
WRITTEN BY Jez & John Butterworth
PRODUCED BY Jez Butterworth, Akiva Goldsman, Doug Liman, Bill Pohlad, Jerry & Janet Zucker

SHOT BY Doug Liman & Robert Baumgartner
EDITED BY Christopher Tellefsen
MUSIC BY John Powell
DISTRIBUTED BY Summit Entertainment, E1 Entertainment, SND

Screened 2010-11-03

For your own good, do not sit too close to the screen when – if – you watch this film. Most of it, particularly in the first half, is shot (by Liman) in bright washed-out close up, always moving, and seems deliberately hard to follow, a theme which ties into the film’s story and presentation, and which I will sum up with the word Obfuscation. Naomi Watts plays Valerie Plume, the CIA agent who was smeared by the abhorrent Bush administration in any attempt to discredit her husband, Joe Wilson, who only tried to tell us all that there was, in fact, no evidence that Saddam had been developing weapons of mass destruction. All of the ideas behind the film make one’s blood boil, and to think it was all in such recent history. Fair Game, however, seems to go as far as possible out of its way to keep us distracted. Facts are spit at the viewer like rapid-fire bullets, resulting in quick bafflement if one is not explicitly familiar with the Plame affair, and coupled with a camera that never stops moving and is very frequently in close-up… it’s all rather confounding. What we should’ve witnessed was a spare procedural, as the numerous points of view are difficult enough to juggle. Instead we have sexy technological pooblah. Liman, it appears, has the same career trajectory as Tim Burton: first film was his best and its been downhill since then, which I’m sure is coincidentally inversely proportional to each man’s respective commercial success within the biz. Fair Game was the only American film at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and with the exasperating result I can see why.

written by David Ashley