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REVIEW | FAIR PLAY

A dazzling look into how quickly a man can resort to the nuclear option when the world doesn't serve him in exactly the way he wants it to.
WRITTEN BY ALEX GISLTON / JANUARY 23, 2023

The cut-throat world of finance is the setting for the workplace gender politics drama Fair Play. It’s a dazzling look into how quickly a man can resort to the nuclear option when the world doesn't serve him in exactly the way he wants it to.


Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) works in the financial sector in New York with his fiance Emily (Phoebe Dynevor). He has to keep their relationship a secret as it’s against the rules, but everything is going his way. Including an imminent major promotion to project manager. The walls of his idealized life come crashing down when Emily gets the promotion instead of him. His demeanour around her instantly changes and wondering how this could have happened he turns to the internet and finds a Jordan Peterson-Esque demagogue who quickly twists his mind. He then tries his best to stop Emily from succeeding further in her new role.


Chloe Domont gets it spot-on when it comes to portraying how women are treated in the workplace, the monumental double standards they face, and white-collar men willing them to fail. Luke’s self-destructive descent is an amalgamation of every man who has ever had his ego cracked. Instead of supporting the woman he loves he decides to break everything down because he hasn’t been given what he thinks he deserves. Although Fair Play highlights the behaviour of men, it’s main focus is on Emily and her tenacity to trudge through all of this to make the best for herself. It might be hard to fully relate to her as she is a part of the capitilistic system that treats her so badly, but seeing a woman kick ass in a male dominated environment is as satisfying as it gets.


Fair Play has a sharp, finger on the pulse, script which is elevated by the central performances. Phoebe Dynevor is proving herself away from Bridgerton as one to watch. She takes all the power the men usually have as Emily and uses it to deliver an impactful turn. Alden Ehrenreich is the epitome of small man energy as Luke. He traverses the sidelines, silently brewing disdain for Emily and jealousy of her new role. When that lid blows he’s terrifying as man who will stop at nothing to destroy everything around him, including himself. Sparks fly when they both meet in private and their ultimate shouting match, where true feelings explode over the screen, is a tension filled sight to behold.


To start it might seem like Chloe Domont’s writing and directorial debut is treading familiar ground, a conversation posed in so many features before this one. Yet it cements itself as the absolute peak of what a film like this can achieve. There hasn’t been a film at Sundance yet that’s been as electric, and you’d be hard to pressed to find another so easily.


STAR RATING



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