Fair Game (2010) ****

Fari GameFair Game is a film that covers a multitude of issues, and does so fairly effectively, in its 100 minutes or so of screen time. There are a few elements I absolutely loved in Fair Game, and some the movie could have done without. Starting with the later, the choice of shooting many of the film’s scenes by a jittery handheld camera, serves no purpose, causing only distraction. The plot becomes a touch too melodramatic towards the end, after maintaining a well-balanced depiction of the main characters’ relationship throughout most of the film. The Sean Penn character delivers a speech which adds obvious rhetoric the audience could have concluded on their own.
On the brighter side, Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are just delightful to watch. Also, the film has probably the most realistic portrayal of spy life seen on the big screen in a long, possibly ever... No ultra-sophisticated bugging equipment, operatives jumping off rooftops and landing on their feet without a scratch, and no husbands who somehow remain oblivious to the fact their spouse works for the CIA. Other highlights include Sean Penn’s subtle portrayal of a character driven by a need to call the truth by its name, yet stained by an ego that desires public attention. This makes the character feel so very honest. And Naomi Watts presents a wonderful portrayal of a CIA operative, caught between her loyalty to the agency, her country, her field assets, and her family. Though not without political agenda, the film tries to remain focused on the actual facts, and let those facts speak for themselves. All in all it is an intelligent film worth watching.