Monday, November 29, 2010

Fair Game (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Fair Game

"Fair Game" is the real life story of Valerie Plame, the female spy who was outed by Robert Novak in 2003. Naomi Watts stars as Plame, who gives her role a proper understated tone. When the camera opens on this political drama, Plame is sitting in a stark office building. She is disarmingly soft and direct. She uses her blond, bright-eyed looks as a maternal weapon in espionage to get her precise information.

Nobody gets tough with Plame because her comforting generic appearance repels suspicion. She seems more mom than Mata Hari. Sean Penn is her husband, Joseph Wilson who was a former ambassador to Niger.  At the start, Wilson believes that America has the best interest of its people at heart.

Gradually throughout the film tension mounts. Does Iraq have enriched uranium in those ominous sounding aluminum tubes? Indeed the CIA is pressured to get the information necessary to cast Iraq as an immediate threat.

We see Plame as a good mom, caring and compassionate one minute and then jetting off the next. On the mothering scorecard Watts' Plame is a 21st century update of "Leave it to Beaver" but all is not rosy--Plame has recurring nightmares.  Worse, her husband is fed up and world-weary of her constant exiting.  From the looks of things, Mr. Wilson hasn't slept in weeks.  Penn's face is all sag and his body asymetrical motion.

Needless to say Plame presses on badgering conection after connection. She is a curious mixture of soft stubborness. Except for the initial scene it is remarkable that no one flirts with her. Naomi Watts embodies the Hitchcock Idea of a femme fatale: Cool as ice but with fire underneath.

Things come to a head when her hubby writes an editorial in The New York Times about the absence of  uranium tubes in Iraq. Then abruptly on a day that would make Disney feel at home, a paperboy launches the
morning paper into the air with a snap and history is made.

Director Doug Liman of "The Bourne Identity" films has the tough job of balancing facts with matinee-style suspense but the strong performance of  Watts brings it all together.

"Fair Game" emphasizes the suspense of everyday political life. While less over the top than the Bourne films, Valerie Plame is every bit as provocative as Jason Bourne, because of her tough spy core underneath
a maternal instinct.

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