YEAR:  2010

ROLE:  Sam Plame

DIRECTOR:  Doug Liman

US THEATRE PREMIERE: November 5, 2010

Plot Summary

The action thriller is based on the autobiography of real-life undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame whose career was destroyed and marriage strained to its limits when her covert identity was exposed by a politically motivated press leak. As a covert officer in the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division, Valerie leads an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie's husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, is drawn into the investigation to substantiate an alleged sale of enriched uranium from Niger. But when the administration ignores his findings and uses the issue to support the call to war, Joe writes a New York Times editorial outlining his conclusions and ignites a firestorm of controversy.

Film Details
Naomi WATTS.................Valerie Plame
Sean PENN...........................Joe Wilson
Michael KELLY...............Joe McAllister
Ty BURRELL.................................Fred
Bruce MCGILL.......................Jim Pavitt
Sam SHEPARD....................Sam Plame

Screenplay................Jez and John-Henry
Length..................................108 minutes

DVD Release
Blu-ray and DVD on March 29, 2011
Production Notes

Filming took place in Washington, D.C. and New York City. The film had a public screening during the Abu Dhabi film festival on October 21, 2010 with a second preview screening in Brisbane, Australia as part of the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) on October 28, 2010. This film marks the third pairing of Sean Penn and Naomi Watts after "21 Grams" and "The Assassination of Richard Nixon." Here are two on-location photos with the first one showing Sam with director Doug Liman.

Publicity Stills

All Movie Guide:
As a couple whose marriage has been strained to the breaking point, Penn and Watts display a chemistry that makes us feel the gravity of their situation, and Sam Shepard makes a lasting impression as Valerie's father in a brief but telling scene that exposes her true character.

Michael Janusonis, Providence Journal:
Penn can be an explosive screen presence and the friction he brings in later scenes with Watts create real fire. On the other hand, a scene in which Sam Shepard, as Plame’s father, tries to put things into perspective for her is played with great tenderness and understanding.

Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters:
Late in "Fair Game", Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) faces a daunting set of crises. She’s lost her job, her friends feel betrayed, and she’s fighting with her husband, Joe Wilson (Sean Penn). And so she does what so many women in such situations in the movies do: she goes home, that is, to her parents’. Here, predictably, her mother Diane (Polly Holliday) looks after her two young grandchildren, while Valerie’s father follows her into the backyard. They try not to look at each other as she announces, “I think my marriage is over, dad.”

Here it’s enormously helpful that her dad is played by Sam Shepard, because anyone else uttering his lines would be hard-pressed to seem convincing. But when he says he’s spent 25 years in the Air Force, well, you kind of believe him, since he’s been Chuck Yeager, and when he complains that what the Bush administration has done—to her family and the U.S. and Iraq too—“was wrong, Val, it’s just plain wrong,” you believe that too. And so she resolves not to be angry at Joe anymore, but instead to join his fight against the administration, as unwinnable as it may seem. (This fictionalized film is now part of that fight, and the real life Plame and Wilson have been key figures in its promotion.)

While this plot turn is forgone, as Doug Liman’s movie is based on the real life story of administration’s efforts to quash Joe Wilson’s allegation that it lied about Saddam’s weapons program, it has a few ramifications for Fair Game. For one thing, it means that Shepard’s work is done here, his remarkably weathered face and heroic bearing cast as a receding memory—of a time when the U.S. government’s conniving was less visible and fatuous. In Shepard’s absence, it’s Penn’s Wilson who embodies—in Valerie’s eyes, and so yours—a resilient and admirable faith that there is a difference between right and wrong, that ideology doesn’t trump morality.

Alex Carlson, Film Misery:
Watts and Penn are fantastic in two very different leading turns. Penn’s Wilson exists at more varying emotional extremes as his enormous ego leads him to wear his emotions on his sleeve. Watts is more reserved and restrained in one of her better performances that acts as a perfect balance to Penn. There is also a fantastic supporting turn from the legendary Sam Shepard as Plame’s broken, advice giving father.

Laurie Curtis, Tonight at the Movies:
Sean Penn delivers a performance that we have come to expect from him... But it is Naomi Watts performance as Valerie that makes the film work. She is believable as both a tough- as-nails CIA operative, as well as a loving mother and wife. Sam Shepard plays Valerie’s father Sam and I have to say, once again, that I am amazed at the impact that Shepard can have on an audience with such limited time on screen. His characters part is small, but plays a pivotal role in the outcome of the film.

Sally Kline, Washington Examiner:
It is good to see the great Sam Shepard on screen again, as Plame's father.

Contact Music:
Liman's filmmaking has an urgent, raw quality from the start, with realistic rough edges and an alert eye for detail. The best scenes are off-handed ones like a strained dinner party. But things are continually cranked up to generate suspense or melodrama where it isn't really needed. Much more effective is Shepard, as Valerie's dad, quietly consoling her: "What they did was wrong. Just plain wrong."