Time Out: Chicago: Reviews Fair Game

November 5th, 2010

TIME OUT: Chicago

Fair Game
By Ben Kenigsberg

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Is there still something to be gleaned from the inevitable movie version of the Valerie Plame–Joseph Wilson story? Fair Game suggests that the craven, defensive outing of an undercover CIA agent marked a definitive turning point in our media-driven political culture: Actual national security was compromised…in the name of protecting a fake narrative of national security. (And bear in mind, these were the guys who claimed to be strong on terror.) The movie offers the relative novelty of seeing events unfold from Plame and Wilson’s perspective, so that we can understand how operations were jeopardized, what each member of the household knew and how being a voice of reason came to be a curse for both of them. The movie also fascinates as a procedural, a look at how evidence-gathering works: The film sees Scooter Libby as a sneering bully who talks over the facts he doesn’t want to hear.

If nothing in Liman’s righteous (if blunt) sermon qualifies as news, it’s possible that Fair Game may seem more purposeful down the road: Thirty years from now, an audience not accustomed to seeing Wilson make the talk-show rounds won’t experience it with a pang of déjà vu. Watts and Penn are as riveting as you’d expect, although the vaudeville depictions of Libby, Karl Rove and David Addington play like something out of Oliver Stone’s W. or the short-lived sitcom That’s My Bush!—isolated bits of caricature unworthy of an otherwise sober treatment.