Fair Game

Rated 4.0

If Fair Game has the makings of a very political spy thriller, it’s simply because Valerie Plame-Wilson (wife of former U.S. diplomat Joe Wilson) was a CIA agent deeply involved in crucial intelligence operations in the Middle East. And if the actual film veers away from the conventional satisfactions of spy stories and political thrillers alike, it’s because director Doug Liman and company are smart enough to know that it would be foolish to do otherwise. The Plame/Wilson/Bush/WMD story is too much a matter of the historical record to permit, much less require, a suspenseful retelling and too much a part of an ongoing international debacle to allow room for any grand, crowd-pleasing settling of accounts. What we get instead in this intriguingly elusive (but by no means evasive) movie is rewarding in several respects—a quietly complex evocation of the globally confounding age in which we find ourselves, a sidelong history lesson more inclined to raise questions than to give answers, and a deftly understated portrait of an extraordinary and somewhat baffling married couple—Plame (an excellent Naomi Watts) and her diplomat husband (Sean Penn). Pageant Theatre. Rated PG-13