Fair Game (12A)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Jessica Hecht
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The Independent Culture

Doug Liman's earnest political drama draws on a true story of how the Bush government turned on one of its own. Naomi Watts plays covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose investigations in Iraq uncovered no evidence of Saddam running a nuclear- weapons program.

Her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), backed up that theory when he reported that Niger, his former stamping ground, had not sold uranium to Iraq. So, according to this, the US administration knew there was no WMD but went to war anyway; when Wilson wrote a New York Times piece to that effect, Valerie Plame's covert status was blown in a press leak and her field operatives in the Middle East immediately imperilled. Exposed to a media firestorm and branded as traitors, Plame and Wilson struggle to keep their marriage together, while in the corridors of the White House Bush's minions cover their backs by falsifying evidence. (It was Karl Rove who told a journalist that Valerie Plame was "fair game"). The script, based on memoirs of their experience by Wilson and Plame, has two stories to tell – the run-up to Iraq, and the portrait of a marriage under fire – and combines them very adroitly. Watts, as the self-possessed Plame, is the best reason to see the film, steering an entirely credible line between horror at her employers' betrayal and a complicated regret that her husband – less canny, more idealistic – turned whistleblower without her knowledge. Having risked her neck for the cause in private, she was – to the government's shame – hung out to dry in public.