In The Rush To War, Even A Spy Is 'Fair Game' In a new movie, director Doug Liman dramatizes the private turmoil the furor caused in the lives of Valerie Plame and her husband.
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In The Rush To War, Even A Spy Is 'Fair Game'

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In The Rush To War, Even A Spy Is 'Fair Game'

Review

Movies

In The Rush To War, Even A Spy Is 'Fair Game'

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The real-life story of Valerie Plame was just begging to be made into a movie. She was the covert CIA officer whose cover was blown when her husband became a controversial figure just after the invasion of Iraq. The movie opens this weekend and Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN: "Fair Game" is a film that intends to show us the private drama behind the public spectacle. The problem is, the public spectacle is a lot more interesting.

That political drama tells the story of Valerie Plame, forcefully played by Naomi Watts. When we meet her in the film's brisk opening, she is the picture of steely covert operative competence.

(Soundbite of movie, "Fair Game")

Unidentified Man (Actor): (as character) I want you to head up operations. It's a top priority.

TURAN: Plame handles a tricky situation in Kuala Lumpur like it was the kind of thing she did every day.

(Soundbite of movie, "Fair Game")

Ms. NAOMI WATTS (Actor): (as Valerie Plame) If you get out of this car, I can't protect you.

TURAN: Plame's husband, Joe Wilson - played by Sean Penn - was a former U.S. ambassador.

(Soundbite of movie, "Fair Game")

Ms. WATTS: (as Valerie Plame) I love you.

Mr. SEAN PENN (Actor): (as Joe Wilson) I promise I'll behave.

TURAN: He had the temerity to suggest that the Bush administration was, in effect, cooking the books about uranium purchases and ignoring critical facts in its zeal to invade Saddam Hussein's Iraq. When that happened, people in the White House put Plame in their crosshairs to divert the public's attention from what her husband was saying.

Plame was always close-mouthed, pretending to friends that she was a committed venture capitalist. When she is outed, her hot-tempered husband goes on the offensive, which doesn't suit her at all.

(Soundbite of movie, "Fair Game")

Ms. WATTS: (as Plame) Hello?

Mr. PENN: (as Wilson) Valerie, turn on MSNBC.

Unidentified Child (Actor): (as character) Mom, why can't I have...

Ms. WATTS: (as Plame) OK. Hold on one second.

Mr. PENN: (as Wilson) They've launched an investigation. Ashcroft just announced it. They say he's going to convene a grand jury.

Ms. WATTS: (as Plame) Hold on a second.

TURAN: The political situation behind the drama may sound like so much ancient history, but that's not true. Now that we know that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the extent to which we were manipulated is more disturbing - not less - like a perpetual nightmare that gets worse each time it replays in our minds.

Director Doug Liman, who did "The Bourne Identity," does a fine job, and Watts gives one of the best performances of her career. But rather than concern for private lives, what we feel is outrage about the public acts, and no amount of good moviemaking can change that.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: The movie is "Fair Game." Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. And we have more reviews of new movies at NPR.org.

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