"Fair Game" Manages To Make Bush Look Like More Of A Monster Than He Already Is
The film approaches with quiet-like rage, playing out events methodically and clearly. It concentrates on equal parts story and equal parts relationship.
Wilson (played by Sean Penn), a retired ambassador, is sent to Niger by the CIA to investigate claims of yellowcake (uranium ore) sold to Iraq.
He reports that there is absolutely no evidence to support those claims. The Bush administration ignores his report and says that they will go to war based on British intelligence in a State of the Union address.
“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” said former President Bush.
Two months later, the U.S. invades Iraq. Four months after that Wilson writes about “what he didn’t find in Africa.” Eight days after Wilson’s article, conservative columnist Robert Novak blows Plame’s cover by identifying Wilson as Plame’s husband.
Because of Novak’s story, Plame’s (Naomi Watts) career as a covert agent working in nuclear nonproliferation is over and relationships she’s built with others overseas are severed, not to mention jeopardized because she no longer has control of granting safety to those who gave information regarding weapons building in and around the Middle East.
Investigations into the leak identifies Scooter Libby as the fall guy, played so smugly by David Andrews you want nothing more than to punch him in the face, and he is sentenced to 30 months in prison, which of course Bush commutes.
What’s so good about the film is that all of it is true. Liman effectively tells a story without losing his audience. The pacing is swift and accurate.
He shows the relationship between Plame and Wilson almost at a breaking point, and he makes you feel the heartache and tension these two must’ve gone through in all that time.
"I felt the pain all over again. You'd think I would get over it," said Plame after watching scenes from the film. "It hurts. It really does.”
Perhaps the reason why it hurts for Plame is that the story is executed so thoroughly well by Naomi Watts. Her acting is always excellent and that has always been the case since I first saw her in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive.” She says words that have underlying meanings, and you can see it with every shake of her head; every tremor of her chin.
Watts is long overdue for an Oscar, and this powerful personage of Plame conveys nothing short of an Academy Award.
Although Sean Penn has done many spectacular roles, I can never get over that it feels like he’s acting, or trying really hard to fit whatever role he’s supposed to fill. I never forget that it’s him, rather than the character he’s supposed to embody.
Not the case with “Fair Game.” His self-righteous role as Wilson was exactly what it needed to be, and his eventual breakdown questioning if he did the right thing by writing the article made me forget about Penn altogether and concentrate on the tragedy of two lives, ruined.
It’s rare that a film can convey so effectively the difference between right and wrong; good and evil without preachy sentiment.
In this case, “Fair Game” didn’t need any embellishments and instead relied solely on the truth to move it forward.
The bottom line is that you’ll walk out of the theater knowing that Bush lied us into a war.
And though it might be considered too late to reflect on events that happened seven years ago when just recently Obama’s administration pulled combative troops out of Iraq, it’s catastrophic if you sit back and think about how many lives ruined and how much the previous administration got away with.
“This is not a polemic," said Liman. "The core of this movie is about our right as American citizens to criticize our government without fearing reprisal. That's an issue that unites all of us."