Nov 14, 2010
I love Sean Penn. He is always 100% alive and commits everything he has to every role he plays with intelligence and panache. He is inspired casting for the role of Joseph Wilson, husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts, also excellent) in this entertaining movie by Doug Liman. Penn is a great choice because we all know his politics. A lot of people hate him for going to New Orleans to help people after Katrina, his visits to Chavez and Cuba and Iraq. At least he takes a stand. So it's doubly delightful to see him seethe as he portrays Wilson listening to Bush talk about Iraq's inexistent nucular program. There are a couple of scenes where he is hounded by the press and he tries to keep his cool, when we all know that Sean Penn would probably deck them in the face. So he is wonderful to watch. Quiet, tender and endearing when he needs to be, a bit of a blustery, pompous ass as well. Give him a great speech about the responsibility citizens have towards their own democracy and he nails it with sincerity and without posturing. Naomi Watts is also very good as Valerie Plame. She is brisk and professional and no nonsense, but when they jump on her to destroy her, the anger and outrage show through her pores, she feels like she's a pressure cooker about to explode. The movie also focuses on the personal fallout and the strain of a marriage in which the woman is never home because she is too busy being a secret agent while the husband cares for the kids and is between worried about her whereabouts and upstaged by her.
But what it does also very well is to remind us that Dick Cheney still roams the Earth a free man, when he should be accused of treason and convicted to life behind bars for crapping all over the Constitution and the laws of this country. It reminds us that we are still sacrificing lives for a war waged on false premises. It shows how Dick Cheney was trying to make a case for his personal invasion of Iraq despite the intelligence that the CIA had gathered that showed Iraq had no nuclear program. It shows how the Bush administration (Karl Rove and Libby, whose reduced sentence of 2.5 years in prison was commuted by Bush) retaliated against Wilson's fact finding mission by scandalously outing Plame, who had to quit her job and leave a bunch of Iraqi scientists in the lurch, which meant unprotected and as good as dead. Fair Game works well as the intimate drama of a marriage under strain, but better as an exposé of one of the many outrageous crimes that happened during the last administration and for which those responsible have not been prosecuted.
Fair Game is well written (by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth), fast paced and very entertaining, and if you are a liberal, it feeds your sense of outrage quite deliciously.