FAIR GAME

I've contemplated this review for a couple of days because I'm not sure what to make of “FAIR GAME”. It's the story of Valerie Plame Wilson and her outing by members of the Bush White House. It's based on two books. “Fair Game” which is Plame's own memoir and “The Politics of Truth”, written by Plame's husband Joe Wilson. I've read the latter but not the former. The movie races through the back story, Plame's career as a CIA Agent is highlighted by trips to Indonesia, Lebanon, Jordan and, that hotbed of international spy craft, Cleveland. It takes about 45 minutes but we get it, she's an operative who turns people to work with the U.S. government. She's also a mom and a wife who's husband is a former Ambassador. If you are expecting this to be a rehash of the whole affair with an evenhanded telling of both sides, well, you're going to be disappointed. This is the tale of a family and a woman who are ripped apart in the name of political expedience. Doug Liman does a great job of giving us enough of the backstory to make us care about these people without getting bogged down in the telling. He brings a bit of the “Bourne” energy to the film, even though there's no hand to hand combat. What really makes this all work are Naomi Watts as Plame and Sean Penn as Wilson. There is one very powerful scene where the couple is fighting about just how public they should take their dilemma (Wilson wants the full media press and Plame wants to just lay low) that should get both of them Oscar nominations. David Andrews perfectly captures the smug Scooter Libby and deserves a nod for Supporting Actor. But just when you really get into what's going on, the movie ends and it felt a little unsatisfying to me. That aside, FAIR GAME is definitely worth seeing. — Alan Yudman

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