**½/**** Image B+ Sound C Commentary C
starring Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, David Andrews, Sam Shepard
screenplay by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth, based on the books The Politics of Truth by Joe Wilson and Fair Game by Valerie Plame Wilson
directed by Doug Liman
by Walter Chaw I remember distinctly somewhere in year two of W.'s administration the feeling of extreme "outrage fatigue"--that burnout that occurs when you've spent so much time incredulous that you realize you're the idiot for expecting something different. Subsequently, I recall being the only one in my circle of friends to predict W.'s re-election, as well as the only one not surprised when we didn't find any WMDs. It's not that I'm particularly smart, it's that I'm dick enough to be right half the time. Why fight it? Bad movies tend to win the weekly box office, bad music dominates the charts, bad TV gets renewed; rather than declare it a new phenomenon, take cold comfort in knowing that it was always this way and it's not necessarily worse now. Sophocles wasn't selling out the Coliseum, after all. So if Fair Game, Doug Liman's adaptation of Valerie Plame's memoir of her betrayal by the Bush Administration for the sins of her big-mouthed, self-righteous husband Joe Wilson, doesn't have shock and outrage going for it, it at least has the smarts to portray Joe as a deeply ambiguous figure. He's a jackass, but he's right, and Sean Penn's portrayal of him is uncompromised, unflattering, and completely in keeping with stuff like his Into the Wild and The Assassination of Richard Nixon: liberal shots that don't offend the conversation.