Whether you watch the trailer for Chloe Domont’s Fair Play or not, the first few shots of the film build tension in such a thrilling format that it’s clear we’re about to watch a delicious unraveling of sorts. Domont doesn’t make it apparent how that’ll happen, but the cards are all on the table, and we’re merely supposed to keep flipping them over. Starring Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor and young Han Solo/Oppenheimer’s Alden Ehrenreich, the film succeeds entirely because of its stars and their writer/director.
The world of cutthroat hedge funds sounds anything but appealing for someone who was a Literature major. It’s the last job market I want to watch anything about, actively avoiding films like Wolf of Wall Street and many others in its sphere. But pair fantastic actors with a woman at the helm of the writer and director’s seat, then it’s a no-brainer. I’m in. The film’s point of view, centering around Dynevor’s Emily, and the relationship elements work entirely because Domont is painting a familiar picture many of us know as opposed to showcasing drama for the sake of it. None of this is meant to be romanticized, and even when it’s all seemingly going great, the red flags ooze from every corner.
Chloe Domont’s Fair Play Gives Phoebe Dynevor Plenty of Space to Shine
Now, despite the gripping performances, Chloe Domont’s Fair Play isn’t an easy film to watch. Set during the early day breaks in New York and dimly lit rooms, the haunting components in its set design and cinematography lend themselves to Emily and Luke’s (Ehrenreich) forbidden romance with all the edge necessary. In many cases, the trope can be a dazzling feat that allows two people to overcome the opposing forces standing against them, but in some cases, the demons are internal, exhibiting how and why they should’ve never been together. It’s an evocative character study, if nothing else, adding to many women’s ongoing fears about where the fragile male ego could take a distressed partner.
From beginning to end, the film belongs to Phoebe Dynevor, showcasing frame by frame that the actress’ chops are undeniably astounding. It comes out rather quickly when we see her in the beginning, but the best of her abilities rushes to the surface throughout the quiet moments where Emily notices the changes in Luke. Dynevor brings a full range of emotions to the screen, playing on organic reactions with the utmost natural embodiment. No scene, no matter how dramatic or vicious, is overdone.
As the narrative progresses and the tension becomes thicker, the film continues to develop with a pitiful decline that still manages to leave viewers on their toes. It’s easy to understand that Luke never valued Emily or her abilities but rather what she could be for him if everything went according to his plan. And it’s that very fragility that’s consistently on display throughout Chloe Domont’s Fair Play. At the same time, he seeks out motivational speakers, not to overcome some underlying insecurities all human beings have but to figure out how to one-up his secret fiancee, resulting in a humiliating moment of getting on his knees in front of their boss.
It’s an uncomfortable film, to say the least, when watching it as a woman and seeing Emily in a room full of vile men who’d stop at nothing to undermine her, even when they’re paying her compliments. It could push a lot of buttons, which is the entire purpose of the toxicity that is on display. There was a moment when I questioned if the conclusion would stick the landing based entirely on their relationship, so it was gratifying to know it did. Fair Play isn’t for everybody, but it’s a riveting film in more ways than one that understands the gravity of a disastrous career-based destruction and its lasting effects on the human psyche. It’s a gripping character and relationship study that gives its stars heavy material to bring to life in a thrilling film worth its salt.
Chloe Domont’s Fair Play will play in select theaters starting September 29 before coming to Netflix on October 6.
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