Saturday, December 18, 2010

FAIR GAME - 'The Politics of Truth'

FAIR GAME (political drama)
Cast: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Bruce McGill, Brooke Smith, David Denman, Noah Emmerich, David Andrews and Louis Ozawa Changchien
Director: Doug Liman
Writers: Jez Butterworth, John Butterworth based on the books The Politics of Truth by Joseph Wilson and Fair Game by Valerie Plame Wilson
Time: 106 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Watts and Penn in FAIR GAME

PREAMBLE: Based on the books by Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, Fair Game is a reflective and yet compelling movie about how the couple are affected when a devious, bare-face liar of a President twists and fabricate facts just so that the US can wage war on Iraq. I would not reveal who these political arseholes are because the movie makes no attempt to hide or disguise them.

At the end of the film, we feel pity for the Wilsons whose marriage is wrecked by the 'nuculear' con job, as well as for the millions who have become victims of the US war on Iraq. Some points in the movie may be debatable but the fact remains that the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) of Saddam Hussain have never been found.

THE SKINNY: Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) is a covert CIA agent who works on assignment in Kuala Lumpur, Baghdad, Dubai, and Cairo. Her husband, Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) is with the foreign service and a former ambassador to Niger. However, when President Bush insists on the existence of 'WMD' in Iraq, Joe Wilson writes an article in the Times denying the President's claim. This triggers a confrontation between Wilson and the 'office of the Vice-President', and the destruction of the Valerie's career as a CIA agent.

What is worse is that she is running nine teams in the field with 15 agents in Baghdad at that time - and the administration has the cheek to say that she works as "a secretary" to diminish her credibility!

HITS AND MISSES: Fair Game works because we feel for Joseph and Valerie and root for them. Penn plays the cigar-chomping Wilson as a hotheaded idealist who is often fueled by outrage against whatever perceived injustice. Watts makes Valerie an ideal agent: secretive, unbreakable, compassionate and loyal. She would rather have her husband lie low like a good soldier than go to war against the Top Brass. And yes, Watts has us eating out of her hand in almost every scene.

Director Doug Liman (of Mr & Mrs Smith) gradually transforms the movie from a spy-game mystery to a marital tussle - keeping us rooted throughout. Using real-life TV clips to remind us of what really happened - he manages to rile us again over that blatant abuse of power and makes us wish that the culprit may be brought to justice.

THE LOWDOWN: Watch it for a piece of US political history.


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