Fair Game (12A) - Rating: 7/10

Sean Penn as Joe Wilson
Sean Penn as Joe Wilson
0
Have your say

In July 2003, former UN weapons inspector Dr David Kelly died after a high-profile appearance before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to answer questions about the so-called “dodgy dossier” of evidence about weapons of mass destruction.

On the other side of the Atlantic at the time, CIA operations officer Valerie Plame was caught in the eye of a media storm after her own government had seemingly blown her cover to discredit her husband, who had been highly critical of the Bush administration.

She became a focal point for the anger and confusion of a nation struggling to understand the decision to invade Iraq based on apparently flawed intelligence data.

Plame endured trial by media and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, chronicled their ordeal in his 2004 book, The Politics Of Truth: Inside The Lies That Led To War And Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity: A Diplomat’s Memoir.

She followed suit three years later with her versions of events, Fair Game: My Life As A Spy, My Betrayal By The White House.

Doug Liman, director of The Bourne Identity and Mr & Mrs Smith, relives the fraught period in this dialogue-heavy thriller adapted from the memoirs by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth.

In the film, Valerie (Naomi Watts), whose CIA status is unknown to almost her entire circle of family and friends, is caught in the crossfire when her husband Joe (Sean Penn) writes a scathing opinion piece for The New York Times.

A subsequent article in The Washington Post exposes Valerie and she is shunned by colleagues, including Jack McAllister (Michael Kelly), who need to protect their own identities.

Fair Game is a gripping snapshot of the events leading up to the war in Iraq and the subsequent fallout for Valerie, Joe and their family.

The script tries to avoid taking sides, despite the source material, by providing a clear and concise timeline of events in the corridors of power as the possibility of war becoming a sickening reality and inevitability.

The knot in our stomachs tightens with each passing frame as Valerie and Joe witness events spiralling out of control before them, and the terrible price they must pay for daring to lift the veil of secrecy and lies.

Watts and Penn deliver riveting, impassioned performances, laying bare the rage and disappointment that slowly threatens to tear their marriage apart at a time when they most need to mount a united front.