As always here is my ratings system.
10= Perfection (maybe 5-10 films all-time have made this category)
9= Great Film/ Likely Masterpiece
8= Must See/ Worth Owning
7= Worth Seeing/ Recommend to Others
6= Decent and Not Unhappy to Have Viewed/ May Recommend to Select People, but Not to Most
5= Likely had Some Positives but Wasn’t a Good Film
4= Bad Film
3= Horrible Film
2= Offensively Bad Film/ Surely Angered Me to have Viewed
1= Worst Pile of Shite Ever Committed to Film
Directed by Doug Liman, Starring Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Bruce McGill, Michael Kelly and Ty Burrell
Fandango Synopsis- Valerie Plame and her husband face the fallout when her cover is blown as a covert CIA agent. Plame’s status as a CIA agent was revealed by White House officials allegedly out to discredit her husband after he wrote a 2003 New York Times op-ed piece saying that the Bush administration had manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Positives- This is an interesting, true, somewhat infuriating story that I was aware of, but hadn’t followed particularly closely when it was happening. It was worth seeing the lead up and the fall out of the disgraceful act by the Bush Administration. (Can you imagine how many films would be made if one was made for each person’s life the Bush Administration ruined?) Once the media storm started hitting, it was scary to see how easily the media was controlled and manipulated, and how helpless the individual is to the perception of them that people gain from the coverage. It covers some of the same ground as the very good, “The Tillman Story” does. Sean Penn does a very good job in this. It is a much less showy performance than most of his of late. It doesn’t stand out as much as his Harvey Milk portrayal, but is surely better than his sometimes ridiculous, other Oscar winning performance in “Mystic River”. He is the ONLY standout performer in the film. It really is a joy to watch Penn’s character (Joe Wilson) call out and berate other guys over casual dinner’s, who are talking out of their asses about politics and world affairs. You see the disgust boiling up inside him as they speak and eventually he just cannot hold his tongue, which is a trait I can often relate to. I find it fascinating the way, in a film, Penn is able to be so charismatic and boisterous, yet in real interviews about things he cares deeply about, he is often soft-spoken, mumbles, stutters and struggles to make comprehensible statements.
Negatives- When watching and now thinking about “Fair Game”, I come to the conclusion that, while the film is entertaining and good overall, it is material that could have been better covered as a documentary. In fact, much of the stuff having to do with the White House seeking specific information in order to make their case to the public for war, and discarding overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that would hurt the case for war, has been covered much better in various mediums. I think you needed to see the real players involved speaking about it all. I wanted facts. The film wasn’t shot very dynamically. There were more uninteresting full screen close ups of Watt’s and Penn’s faces than I could count or bear. A five second audio sequence of what sounded like an SNL parody of Chris Matthew’s made me laugh out loud due to it’s ridiculousness. Even with it being a true story, I still feel as though the conclusion to the film/story is pretty unsatisfying.
Verdict-I had a hard time finding a ton of specifics to praise or to rail against with “Fair Game”. I liked it more as I watched and walked out of the theater than I do looking back at it, but overall I found the film to be pretty entertaining. Sean Penn gives a strong performance and it is nice to get a lot more of the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson story than the media has offered up. I will be at the head of the line to see the documentary, if one is made about the situation, but for the time being, it is worth your time to see “Fair Game”.
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