Exclusive: Test screening review of Fair Game
Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Thanks to our longtime friend Adam54 of Coming Attractions' message forums, we've landed an exclusive in the form of an early review for Fair Game, the upcoming thriller-drama starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. The actors play Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame, the married couple who were at the centerstorm of a Washington, D.C. scandal over Plame's outing as an undercover CIA operative by Washington Post journalist Robert Novak. The scandal, known in the press as "Plamegate", destroyed her career and rocked the White House as accusations were leveled against the Bush administration and its allies. Ambassador Wilson made the charge that the Bush administration had knowingly leaked his wife's covert status as a direct response for his public statements that the administration played up or outright lied that Iraq had uranium in its possession to make nuclear bombs. While Bush used the uranium scare to build his case for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, it was later proven that Iraq never had in its possession the material.
Plame later wrote a memoir describing her ordeal entitled Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House. In March 2007 it was announced that Warner Bros. had purchased the screen rights to Plame's book as well as the life rights to herself and Wilson. Akiva Goldsman's Weed Road Productions and Jerry Zucker of Zucker Productions began to develop the movie. Doug Liman, director of Jumper, Mr. & Mrs Smith and Swingers, came onboard to direct.
A test screening for Fair Game was held a few days ago. Our inside man caught this early cut of the film and sent us this report:
"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."
Right now Fair Game doesn't have a scheduled release date.