Film Review: Fair Play – 8/10

‘If I can’t make you cry, I’ll make you bleed…’

The world of finance has long fascinated audiences, most recently in HBO’s feverish Industry. Fair Play is playing in the same sandpit as that show but this is cinema baby so everything has to be dialled up to a 100. I love it. This is a pulpy, preposterous film that brings to mind the glorious heydey of the ’80s yuppie nightmare movies. You could totally imagine peak-era Michael Douglas striding into one of these boardroom meetings. Lovely stuff…

We open with Emily (Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) totally in love and on the verge of marriage. Things become derailed, however, when Luke is passed over for a promotion at the hedge fund in which they both work and Emily is promoted in his place. Writer-director Chloe Domont has some fascinating things to say about women in the workplace and the fragility of male ego, but she never loses sight of her central aim – to entertain. Elsewhere, Eddie Marsan shows up as sinister CEO Campbell and, of course, Rich Sommer is here too – a man who was born to appear in films such as this one. He just has one of those faces.

A film like Fair Play lives or dies on the chemistry shared by its two leads and Dynevor and Ehrenreich are both excellent here. While they are disconnected for so much of the film, there is always a frisson of sexual tension between them culminating in a wonderful engagement party scene towards the end of the film. Domont wisely avoids moral judgment until the very end, instead presenting the viewer with two flawed, selfish individuals and allowing us to make our minds up. Indeed, if there is one criticism to be levelled at Fair Play it would be that it doesn’t have any sympathetic characters, but then, in this world, these people, I don’t think your average Joe should have any sympathy for them (and I’m as average a Joe as they come).

Fair Play might be implausible. It might be shallow. It might even glorify the wrong kind of person. But, and this is the most important thing, this film is an absolute blast.