FAIR GAME – Review by Susan Granger

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It’s too little, too late – this attack on President George W. Bush’s ill-advised decision to attack Iraq on the basis of faulty intelligence indicating that Saddam Hussein not only possessed but was ready to launch weapons of mass destruction.

Despite its action-packed beginning in Kuala Lumpur, the story is set in Washington, D.C., where intrepid CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson (Naomi Watts) lives with her husband, retired ambassador Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), and two young children. While Plame flies around the globe to supervise secret missions, Wilson, a staunch Democrat, openly voices his mounting skepticism about Hussein’s ability to launch a nuclear war.

When the Agency hears that Iraq may be buying large amounts of ‘yellowcake’ (uranium) from Niger, diplomat Wilson, an expert on that tiny West African nation, is dispatched to investigate, concluding that a large-scale sale has not occurred, but the Bush administration deliberately misconstrues his report as yet another pretext for declaring war. Righteously indignant, Wilson writes a New York Times Op-Ed, refuting Bush’s decision. In retaliation, Bush’s furious advisor Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney’s sneaky chief-of-staff Scooter Libby leak Plame’s covert status to Washington Post columnist Robert Novak, thereby wrecking her promising career, discrediting Wilson’s allegations and endangering Plame’s cohorts and sources still trapped in Baghdad.

Scripted by brothers Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth from “The Politics of Truth” by Joseph Wilson and “Fair Game” by Valerie Plame Wilson, it’s dutifully directed by Doug Limon, who subtly reveals how the necessity for secrecy has taken its toll on the Wilson marriage which becomes emotionally strained almost to the breaking point. After working together in “21 Grams” and “The Assassination of Richard Nixon,” Watts and Penn have developed a convincing familiarity with one another. But there’s too much serious exposition and media strategy and too little suspense – and Limon’s incessant use of the haphazardly jiggling, hand-held camera increases the tedium.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Fair Game” is a sanctimonious 6, when it could have been a far-more effective expose of political malfeasance and corruption.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.