Thanks to the movie website Corona Coming Attractions, there’s an advance review of the new film Fair Game, based on the book by Valerie Plame, the CIA case officer who was “outed” by the Bush Administration when her husband called the president a liar in The New York Times in July 2003 for claiming Iraq was acquiring nuclear weapons material.
Wilson’s Op-Ed piece led to a firestorm in Washington, an admission by the White House that it had exaggerated the claim in Bush’s State of the Union address during the run-up to the war, and a series of investigations that resulted in convicted felon Scooter Libby not going to jail thanks to his pal Dick Cheney.
The rest is history – and now a movie.
A test screening for Fair Game, which stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, was held a few days ago and someone at Coming Attraction caught an early cut of the film:
“Fair Game is really a tremendous, thought provoking film. It’s based on the same titled memoir by former CIA Agent Valerie Plame, who of course worked for the agency as an undercover spy until her husband wrote an op-ed piece declaring that the Bush White House lied about Sadaam Hussein’s efforts to buy yellow-cake uranium from Niger. Naomi Watts plays Plame (and as shown at the ending, really looks a lot like her), and plays her wonderfully. The story is set up through a sequence at the beginning showing her in action in the field, and in the CIA headquarters being completely dedicated to her job. She loves what she does for her country even at the price the travel and the secrecy puts on her family life.
“She’s married to former Ambassador Joe Wilson, played by Sean Penn in what very easily could (and should) be his next Oscar nomination. Wilson is a man in turmoil almost from his opening scene, dining with friends who think they know everything about the world. They don’t, Wilson doesn’t, but he certainly knows more about the Iraq situation than they do and is glad to tell anybody about it who will listen. His expertise gets him looked at (through no suggestion of his wife) and requested of by the CIA to take a trip to Niger to investigate reports that Hussein was looking to buy uranium from that country, which Wilson was a leading expert on. He agreed, made the trip, found that there was no possible way that a purchase of yellowcake was made, and reported that back to the government. The administration, as we now know, chose to ignore this report, and used the incorrect intelligence as a key basis in its case for war.
“This destroys Wilson, who starts to speak up in the press, and the leak of his wife’s identity was made. We’re led to believe that the order of the leak was made by Karl Rove to Scooter Libby (played by a hilariously serious David Andrews), and the rest is history. Plame’s career is destroyed, her marriage (and life) nearly go along with it, and a major investigation into corruption in the Bush White House is launched, ultimately leading to the fall of Libby.
“The film clocked in at roughly 1:50, and paced tremendously well. There was a side-plot they spent a bit too much time on involving an Iraqi family and Plame’s valiant efforts to save them from the invasion, but that was really the only downfall of the film. Watts is excellent, at least as good as she was in Eastern Promises, and Penn is as good here as I’ve seen him. It’s directed by Doug Liman who did an excellent job of it, and I believe he also served as DP, so kudos to him as I often forgot the camera was even rolling. Truly a wonderful human drama with political suspense that should interest anybody no matter how they vote. 9/10 (stars).”
Fair Game does not have a scheduled release date and often films are edited heavily based on audience comments at advanced screenings.