There exists a profound distinction between having power and being truly powerful. Power is a tool, and not everyone possesses the wisdom to wield it effectively. In the context of a workplace, especially within a cutthroat industry, earning recognition or securing a promotion demands relentless effort. When that hard-earned moment finally arrives, it can bring either a chorus of applause and heartfelt congratulations or cast shadows of jealousy. But what if the source of that jealousy is your significant other? Would you willingly sacrifice what you’ve strived so tirelessly to achieve to soothe your partner’s wounded ego, or would you steadfastly pursue your own path?
“Fair Play,” crafted by the talented Chloe Domont, is an exceptional cinematic exploration that dives deep into the realm of power imbalances, depicting the struggles that ensue and the turbulent journey of two individuals who grapple with the sudden rise and unexpected fall. Emily (Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) are deeply in love, a seemingly perfect couple. Their affection for each other is so profound that Luke proposes, confident that she is the one with whom he wants to share his life. However, this idyllic beginning is soon eclipsed. A major promotion looms on the horizon at their workplace, and Luke ardently anticipates securing the coveted position. However, when Emily is selected over him, questions start to circulate—did she exploit her relationship with her boss to clinch the promotion because, some whisper, she lacks the necessary intelligence? While such doubts from outsiders might be tolerable, what if Luke joins the chorus and begins to question Emily’s achievements as well?
Typically, one doesn’t harbor high expectations for a directorial debut, but Chloe Domont surpasses all anticipated standards. She not only breathes new life into the long-neglected genre of erotic thrillers, but also delivers remarkable performances from the two lead actors, Phoebe Dyvenor and Alden Ehrenreich. Both actors shine brilliantly in their own unique ways. The film embarks on a slow start, allowing the characters to acclimate themselves in their surroundings. We witness their happiness, even though they exercise caution in concealing their office romance due to a company policy strictly prohibiting such liaisons. Emily and Luke initiated their romance well before we, the audience, were introduced to their story. Nevertheless, from the very moment we encounter them, we sense that we are embarking on a tumultuous roller-coaster ride.
Chloe Domont’s screenplay is a meticulous masterpiece that keeps viewers perched at the edge of their seats. Both characters appear destined for self-destruction, yet it’s Luke who wrestles most fiercely with the fact that his fiancée secured the position he coveted so ardently. Certain scenes are mind-blowing, none more so than the one in which Luke summons the courage to request a promotion from his ruthless, heartless boss (Eddie Marsan). Trust me, you won’t wish to witness such an excruciatingly embarrassing moment, whether on screen or in real life. Nonetheless, Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal is so convincing that it leaves viewers unsettled throughout. It’s almost as if we are bearing witness to the torment of a soul, and we find ourselves powerless to intervene.
Above all, “Fair Play” delves into a profound exploration of the consequences of power on an individual and the toll it takes on someone who yearns for it but remains forever out of reach. It’s a story that unravels the intricate dynamics of two individuals who could have navigated the storm together, yet ultimately choose diverging paths that lead to their self-inflicted destruction. When such choices are made, one can hardly anticipate a favorable outcome. The film’s narrative serves as a constant reminder of a ticking time bomb on the verge of detonation. In reality, none of us desire to find ourselves caught in the crossfire, but as viewers, we have no choice but to bear witness to the unfolding drama on the silver screen. Once the credits roll, the unsettling impact of this chilling tale, revolving around insatiable, unattainable desires, will linger, refusing to be forgotten.