April 23, 2024

Fair Play 2023 Movie Review

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Fair Play 2023 Movie Review

From trailers, the viewer knows what themes to expect from this movie. But unfortunately, a complete movie has to be about more than male fragility and office gender politics. On that surface level, it does well. There is a well paced slow burn of tension and passive-aggressiveness throughout the picture. However, there are too many insurmountable obstacles to this being a fully realized film.

First, there are arguably no sympathetic characters. We as the audience, I suspect, are meant to resonate with the two leads, but it fell flat for me. Young investment professionals on the come are just a hard pass for me (unless the story is a come-to-Jesus tale about leaving the money-grubbing life and learning to become a real person… but alas, that is not this story). I’ll give credit that the filmmaker did give complexity to the main characters, their ambitions and their insecurities, particularly Emily, portraying each in less than flattering lights. But it never made me connect with them. In particular was the, what might be called Tom Cruise plot armor for Emily. Put in a challenging situation, but the wunderkind can prevail in the end. (Perhaps a better example would be the Sidney Poitier effect… having an actor carry the burden of a fantastical excellence as a representative for an entire demographic group).

The actors did grew on me as the movie progressed, but tended to lose a lot of that goodwill with some egregious overacting in later stages. Alden Ehrenreich was serviceable as Luke, in portraying emotional reactions (for most of the film, anyway). Phoebe Dynevor, as Emily, was equally appealing at first. But unfortunately, as happens all too often it seems, a Brit with a listless American accent gnaws away. (Full disclosure… I KNOW this is on me, it’s the audience’s responsibility to suspend disbelief… but when you know something is just off, it distracts…I think, maybe the character is not who they claim to be? Or is it just the actor? Only after I’d watched the film, I checked IMDb and confirmed).

I think there was a better film hidden away somewhere in this story. A glimpse of it may have been in a scene later in the film. A scene obliquely reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. (Anyone familiar with the most controversial scene in that film, with Susan George, can immediately understand). It’s touched upon later, almost as an afterthought, but would have been a much more interesting avenue to pursue regarding the main characters’ relationship.

Fair Play 2023 Movie Review