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> Fair Game
4 stars (out of 5)
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Michael Kelly, David Denman, Bruce McGill, Sam Shepard, Rebecca Rigg
Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) used to tell people at dinner parties that she worked for a small firm of venture capitalists. The sort of impressive but boring job that people ask few questions about: in fact the perfect cover for her real job as a CIA operative.
Now we all know what Plame used to do because it became useful for President George Bush's team to out her in the course of a press war they were conducting with her husband Joe Wilson (Sean Penn).
Fair Game (Rialto) takes this tiny story of how spin helped sleepwalk America into the gigantic snafu that was the Iraq war and makes it stand for all the moral blindnesses of the Bush presidency.
Tightly focused on Plame's particular involvement in assessing whether Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, the film highlights the shameful cherry-picking of favourable intel that went on. In other ways Fair Game widens the story by taking us out in the field with Plame.
At the time she was presented as a CIA desk jockey but in fact she was a real spy recruiting and managing a chain of informants who were all endangered by her outing. A must see for all political junkies.
Best thing: You start off thinking that the Plame affair was just a sideshow but end convinced that it was an even worse breach of executive privilege than it appeared at the time.
Worst thing: It is so intense and information-dense it feels longer than it is.
See it with: That mysterious friend who travels a lot for their job but you never quite know what they actually do.
- Christine Powley