Movie Review: Fair Game
Naomi Watts is one of the best actresses currently working in American films. This English born, Australian raised actress has always been in the shadow of her friend, Aussie star Nicole Kidman, but she appears to have much more range and the willingness to appear in offbeat, non-commercial films.
Watts' earlier film this year, Mother and Child, was a flop commercially but she and Annette Benning gave brilliant performances as mother and daughter. Her current film Fair Game gives her one of the best parts of her career as the embattled Valerie Plame, in this ripped-from-today's (OK, yesterday's) headlines story. It involves the former CIA agent, who was outed and tossed to the wolves by the Bush administration after her husband Joe Wilson pretty much proved that the whole point of the Iraq invasion was based on lies.
Naomi Watts first gained attention in the U.S. by starring in the David Lynch epic Mulholland Drive. Although I personally loathed this incomprehensible turkey, Watts was very good and she followed it with great parts in 21 Grams (Best Actress Oscar nomination) and Eastern Promises. Watts also played the Fay Wray role in the umpteenth remake of King Kong in 2005. Plus, she is the partner of sexy and talented Liev Schreiber, which has nothing to do with her acting skills but seems worth mentioning nevertheless.
The story of Fair Game gripping. How Valerie and her husband faced persecution and were later vindicated by congressional investigations is the stuff of high drama. The first part of the film shows Plame at work as an agent, with co-star Sean Penn as the overly zealous Joe Wilson. Fair Game is a wonderful study of two people whose marriage and lives are almost destroyed by a corrupt and vengeful White House. All the performances in this film are wonderful, especially those playing the villains; actor David Andrews plays Scooter Libby with all the arrogance and vileness of the real man.
Fair Game is not a great film but it is a very good study of what happens when a power mad presidency is allowed to run over anyone who stands in the way of its agenda. And Watts is wonderful in her role. She plays the early scenes with great skill, and her later scenes, when the world is crashing down around her, are delivered with a heartbreaking intensity.
When Fair Game was over two things popped into my head: One is that it's good to see a film like this, that's so critical of a recent president, can still be made in this country; and two, we are still trapped in the same pointless war—a war that we instigated over a lie. The last decade has pretty much shown that the real weapons of mass destruction were residing in the White House!