Feature

Fair Game

Naomi Watts and Sean Penn play Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson in Doug Liman's account of the Valerie Plame affair.

Directed by Doug Liman(PG-13)

***

Fair Game may be “one of the best spy movies ever, even if it contains little skullduggery,” said Kirk Honeycutt in The Hollywood Reporter. Directed by The Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman, the film finds a marital drama at the heart of a 2003 Washington scandal known as the Valerie Plame affair, and thus makes plain “how compromised lives can become” when senses of duty conflict. In July 2003, Plame’s undercover CIA status was leaked to the media by the White House in an attempt to discredit her husband, Joe Wilson, who had just undercut the WMD claims that justified America’s invasion of Iraq. As the embattled couple, Naomi Watts and Sean Penn create “a simmering portrait of a marriage under intense strain,” said Justin Chang in Variety. Plame wants to move past the incident; the idealistic Wilson simply won’t. But Liman’s “shamelessly misleading” gloss on the story needs viewers to believe that Plame’s outing was a Watergate-level crime, said Kyle Smith in the New York Post. It was instead a mistake—“a footnote to an asterisk to a parenthetical clause of history.” This “finger-wagging” film is for those who won’t move on.

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