Fair Game is the story of CIA agent, Valerie Plame Wilson who was outed by the Bush administration after her husband wrote an editorial that claimed the administration had manipulated information in order to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Naomi Watts is convincing as a covert agent who is driven, smart, and dedicated to her job. So dedicated, in fact, that she is distracted and detached from her children. Sean Penn doesn’t miss a beat as Joe Wilson, her loyal but intense and stubborn husband who refuses to stand by as the White House leads a coordinated effort, fronted by Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, first to convince the public that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and then to discredit him and his wife as liars and unpatriotic Americans.

The film spends a bit too much time setting up and laying out the intricate details of Plame’s job as an operative. While I appreciate the more realistic look at the day-to-day and decidedly unglamorous life of a spy, I would have liked to see more attention paid to the emotional aftermath she and her family must deal with once her identity is exposed and her lifelong career is destroyed. The story ends just when it feels like it’s getting revved up.

The fact-based story is especially moving when we see Plame’s carefully laid out work and the hard won trust of her Iraqi informants decimated when her own government pulls the rug out from under her. It is strikingly plain to see in these scenes why the Iraqis hold such ill will toward Americans and the U.S. Also affecting and understated is a moment between Plame and Sam Shepard as her father, a military man who reminds his daughter of the true meaning of loyalty to family and country.

As related in the film, what the Bush administration did makes the Watergate scandal seem like child’s play. It is extremely disconcerting that those who were entrusted with the highest office in our country and should indeed be held to a higher standard were not at all held accountable but worse allowed to act above the law.

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