It’s always a little
tricky to do a true movie about recent history.
Fair Game hits the multiplexes with a
lot of political baggage and a lot of heated debate and propaganda about the subject
- even though most legitimate and unbiased sources agree that the outing of
CIA agent Valerie Plame due to political reasons was at the very least
illegal and immoral, at worst it could be called all-out treason.
After all, treason would
have been the charge had anyone else gone and outed an undercover special
agent, leaving many of her co-workers and informants in mortal danger.
However, in this case, because the outing was done by White House insider
Scooter Libby - quite probably at the bequest of then-Vice President Dick
Cheney, the case was swept under the rug.
It is shocking just several
years later how few people know the details of the Plame case.
Therefore, it makes for a
fascinating and dramatic film. Director Doug Limon - who usually goes
for lighter fare (Swingers, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) - does a good job at
being compellingly neutral in sharing the story. While the film does
obviously believe that Plame was wrongly treated it does the interesting
trick of turning an important political story into a more personal story - a
beltway Scenes From a Marriage.
In fact, her husband, former Ambassador Joseph
Wilson - who inadvertently set things into motion when he publicly announced
that the Bush Administration had misrepresented his findings about the
possibility of Iraq getting uranium for nukes in their argument for going to
war with Iraq - is actually shown to be a rather vain, hard-headed man.
Also Plame is not only shown to be a smart spy
but also a worried mother who sees the scandal brewing around them not only
as a bureaucrat but also in the ways that it is affecting
Naomi Watts does a terrific job as Plame - in
turns smart and competent on one hand and worried and devastated on the
Sean Penn takes a chance at playing Wilson as a bit of a cold fish who will
never back down from a fight no matter how impossible it is to win.
They are surrounded by a capable supporting cast who bring this
underreported real life event to vivid and chilling light.
Now it is only ethical for
me to admit that I very, very slightly knew Plame when we were both
undergraduates at Pennsylvania State University in
the mid-80s. In fact, I didn't even make the connection until the
story had been in the papers for quite some time and a friend from college
asked if I remembered knowing her from school. However, I have not
seen her since then and the fact that I barely knew her at Penn State does
not color my viewpoint about what happened to her one iota.
Fair Game is an
important film because it pulls back the curtain on an ugly episode in our
recent political history. The fact that it is also a touching family
drama is just an added bonus. Movies like this may be too small or too
sensitive or too painful to grab a huge audience, but that is exactly what
Fair Game deserves.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: November 3, 2010.