FAIR GAME (Doug Liman)
Aside from being a political biopic, FAIR GAME is also a great spy tale based on the memoir of its heroine, Valerie Plame, who was exposed as a CIA agent allegedly as a means to get back at her husband, diplomat Joseph Wilson. This is already too familiar, especially that this story is said to have inspired Rod Lurie’s film NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (remember the Vera Farmiga character?)
Anyways, FAIR GAME attacks the issues surrounding the “Plame Affair” head on, and director Doug Liman works around the details with maximum impact and a burning desire to give justice to its heroine, who is a victim of political struggle. Every scene unfolds in vivid detail, like a great spy thriller. Towards the second half there’s a great verbal joust between leads Naomi Watts and Sean Penn which proves the film is something to be taken seriously, because the events feel real, and the actors are so deep into their characters the tension is intense.
Many a film had already exposed the Bush administration and its fiasco on the Iraq war as a major SNAFU (that’s Situation Normal All Fucked Up to you)— JARHEAD, GREEN ZONE, Michael Moore’s films, even DELTA FARCE, but FAIR GAME differs because its victim is a woman, and a woman who is disarmingly human as the film presents. Plame never wanted to butt heads with the White House; she just wanted her job back. Thanks to her husband’s determination through his media rallies, Plame testified against the injustice done to her and heads rolled, but not long until Bush started meddling again.
If this film does not get you angry in the end, I don’t know what will.
So the film is anti-feminist then? Not really. Plame’s ordeal was tough, and we witness her survival all throughout. What rule says that a man cannot reinforce his wife’s confidence? Plame, afterall is a human being capable of doubt, of fear, of choosing to remain mum. But as she Naomi Watts says in the film, “they cannot break me because I have no breaking point”.
The beauty in FAIR GAME is that it is based on a subversive memoir; hence the film takes its angst and its direct-to-the-point storytelling from the source material itself, with no fear of misrepresentation or false claims. As what critics claim as “righteous anger” filling the entire film (a term I have never heard of, and will certainly use for future reference), FAIR GAME serves as a reminder that the David and Goliath still applies to this day, that is if you know how to strategize.