Countdown to Cannes 2010: The Films: FAIR GAME

OWF counts down the ten most important films showing at Cannes 2010: #9 FAIR GAME...

Fair Game

The penultimate film in this preview series is Doug Liman's fact based political thriller ' Fair Game' starring acting heavy weight Sean Penn and Naomi Watts and based on the memoirs of former undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband Joseph Wilson's book "Politics of Truth", dealing with Plame Wilson's undercover status being compromised by leaks from the Bush Administration to journalists.

Penn is playing the husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who watched Valerie's CIA status become compromised in response to articles he wrote accusing the Bush Administration of manipulating intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq. It is an enormously intriguing story, even despite reservations recently voiced by Alex Billington over at First Showing:

The only problem is that I'm just not sure whether anyone cares about political movies anymore. Recent political movies like Breach, The Good Shepard, Lions for Lambs, and Rendition have all been considered high profile mainstream projects, but none of them have been very memorable. Then again, maybe there is a place for them, they're just not meant to be big hitters.

I can partly understand the concerns, and I cant really see huge audiences flocking to see 'Fair Game', no matter how much it appeals to me unless director Doug Liman brings something refreshing to the table, or can get some astounding performances out of his leading pair. But if this film hasnt got Awards Season written all over it I have sorely misinterpreted it; just look at the official synopsis...

As a covert officer in the CIA€™s Counter-Proliferation Division, Valerie leads an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie€™s husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, is drawn into the investigation to substantiate an alleged sale of enriched uranium from Niger. But when the administration ignores his findings and uses the issue to support the call to war, Joe writes a New York Times editorial outlining his conclusions and igniting a firestorm of controversy.

Soon after, Valerie€™s covert status is reported by a high-profile Washington journalist. With her cover blown and her overseas contacts placed in mortal danger, Valerie is pushed to the breaking point as her career and private life collapse. After years serving the government, Valerie -a mother, a wife and a field officer with an impeccable record-now struggles to save her reputation, her career and her family.

Not exactly the most cheerful sounding movie, but definitely an excellent vehicle for both Penn and Watts to flex their acting muscles. And most intriguing of all is Liman's promise that he has a "really, really insane take" on how to tell the story, which will no doubt appease some of those who fear that the political story isnt all that welcome a genre for audiences.

Liman Fair Game

Reasons to be Excited

- Doug Liman knows political intrigue. Not just in terms of the still phenomenal 'The Bourne Identity' either. It's in his blood: Liman's father Arthur was one of the prosecutors in the Iran-Contra Affair (in which America was found to have sold arms to Iran in return for the release of hostages, with large portions of the funds going to fund Contras in Nicaragua), and Liman has already hinted at the influence his father's professional life had on him with the agency within an agency theme in 'The Bourne Identity'.

- Sean Penn. He is an enormously powerful actor, and an awards behemoth, and anything he goes anywhere near is bound to be excellent. I would struggle to pinpoint anything that Penn has turned his hand to in the past twenty years, and he is now afforded the luxury of being able to pick and choose the productions he wants to be involved with.

- Style. Liman managed to channel a style so impressive in 'The Bourne Identity' that it spawned a million copy-cats with hand-held cams and a penchant for adrenaline-fuelled thrill rides. Impressively, Liman was never drawn into perpetually repeating the style (an unfortunate occurence that other directors have fallen foul of), and the lower key tension implied in the synopsis along with the fact that Liman will take up the reins as Cinematographer on 'Fair Game' above will offer further opportunity for Liman to broaden his stylistic range, which can only be good.

- 'Swingers'. Anyone and everything associated with this golden movie has a life pass as far as 'concerned. 'Swingers' was the moment I realised how cool movies could be (and how aspirational even the most heinous of characters can be with a lot of charm), and it is the reason I will actually still go and watch Vince Vaughn.

- Ty Burrell. The man is utterly hilarious in 'Modern Family', and such is the draw of his stock at the moment, that I would happily go and watch anything he is in. And that's even after I watched the whole first season of 'Back to You'.

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