`Fair Game’ and a nose-dive into shallow waters

I could do just nicely, thank you, without a recounting of the Valerie Plame incident of 2003.  I know that song and dance too well.  I know that Plame, a CIA agent, was outed for the worst of reasons by the Bush administration.  I know Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, were torched because they got in the way. They got in the way between truth of WMD and Bush’s mad march to selling that tragic war in Iraq.

What I have always wanted to know right up to this very day is Why.  Why did Bush pull the trigger on a needless war?

Take your pick of the nebulous possibilities.  Bush wanted to show up Daddy Bush, our fearless leader in the first Gulf War.  Or he wanted to do the oil companies a favor.  That he and his neocon associates wanted to build an American empire just as the U.S. began to stumble off the mountaintop.  Or that as “a war-time president” he could pull a subservient Congress’s reins to further his radical goal of creating a ruling class of rich mucks in this country and letting the rest of us go to hell.  Or even that it was a huge right-wing conspiracy.

Take one or all of those reasons.  Or make up one.  But if you’re an artist making a film about the Plame incident, surely you can do better than the recent docudrama, Fair Game.  Surely you can come up with something new in the telling.  Like give us a view of what made the crucifying of Valerie Plame, her family and some innocent Iraqi citizens she was trying to help out of their country so important. 

But instead Fair Game gives us a love story and a study of Plame’s character, of finding herself again and her strong nature.   But who would care except soap opera addicts?   This movie is just more fiddling while our Rome burns.  Engulfed in the flames of the government’s lies, smoke and mirrors and hidden agenda.   It is like so much in America anymore.  Flash but no substance, another distraction for the masses.

The director, Doug Liman, had so much to work with.  A great American actor in Sean Penn, who plays the whistle-blowing former ambassador Joe Wilson.  An attractive and engaging actress in Naomi Watts, who portrays the efficient agent Plame who loses her career.    And most of all a subject that after seven years is still explosive  —  Bush’s war in Iraq.   And yet Liman took the soft approach, an approach that, if lucky, might not lose for Fair Game as much money as I think it should.

Only those who know little or nothing of the Plame incident will find this film halfway engaging.  And, if you do not know anything about Plame at this late date, chances are you won’t profit from viewing this film.  It’s a waste of time.


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