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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 12, 2023


 ‘FAIR PLAY’ starts as a sweet love story about a young couple who are both working as analysts in a hedge fund company.

If you don’t know what that is, then maybe you should not watch this film as all the jargon between the characters about high finance in New York might just turn you off. 

The setting is refreshingly modern and if you’d stick it out with them, you’d definitely enjoy how the screenplay was deftly, expertly written by debuting writer-director Chloe Domont, with full respect of the viewer’s intelligence and power of comprehension. 

Emily (Phoebe Dynevor, “Bridgerton”) and Luke (Alden Ehrenreich, “Cocaine Bear”) are living together, sharing an apartment in Manhattan. 

But they keep their relationship  a secret because such romantic involvements is strictly forbidden in the company they work for, Crest Capital, where there is cutthroat competition among its analysts.   

While they are attending the wedding of Luke’s brother, Luke formally proposes to Emily and she blissfully accepts his marriage proposal. 

They are both hoping to be promoted soon so they can come out into the open about their relationship.

A manager in their company is fired and Emily later hears that Luke is being considered to be promoted in the vacant position. 

Luke is ecstatic when Emily informs him about it, but the company’s big boss, Campbell (Eddie Marsan), later tells Emily that she is actually the one getting the promotion. 

When Emily tells Luke about this, he says it’s okay and he supports her but as days pass, it becomes obvious that Luke is not happy that Emily is now his superior. 

It’s easy to see that things will just deteriorate from bad to worse and the more the film unfolds and things get so ugly, we the viewers just feel more and more uncomfortable about what’s happening to the characters we used to care for. 

This is because the story started with us rooting and cheering for Luke and Emily, but as their relationship unravel and even their erstwhile satisfying sex life gets strained, we cannot help but feel so sad and sorry for them. 

It came to a point that Emily tries to initiate making love to Luke and he says he is not up to it. 

Then she implores him that she doesn’t mind doing all the work in bed, but he still flatly rejects her. 

Emily tries her best to put in a good word to help Luke get a promotion, but it turns out Campbell has no trust in Luke’s capabilities and really wants him to resign.  

The film is a solid drama examining the tragic decline and horrifying collapse of an erstwhile satisfying relationship set in a milieu of high finance which the narrative coherently delineated on screen.

It surely benefits from the first rate performances of its lead stars. Both Phoebe and Alden deliver powerful, often searing portrayals of their complex roles that engage the viewer from start to finish. 

There are many intense confrontation scenes that escalate and erupt in a final crescendo at the engagement party hosted by Phoebe’s mom where everyone is shocked. 

It’s so harrowing to see their relationship end in disaster.

It’s just too bad that Alden comes out as the villain here as a total asshole who messes things up, specially when he humiliates himself when he implores their boss to promote him.

Phoebe is the vindicated heroine after she finally gets him to apologize to her and she tells him: “Now, get out. I’m done with you.” 

The movie is reminiscent of other romantic films that involve gender politics and brilliant women who have to put up with a lot of crap because they just happen to be more successful than their male partners, 

like “The Wife”, “His Girl Friday”, “Working Girl” and even our own “Hanggang Kailan Kita Mamahalin” where the relationship of Lorna Tolentino and Richard Gomez is ruined because she is promoted and he is not.  

“Fair Play” is an emotional roller coaster ride about a relationship that ends badly.

It depicts the reality of heteronormative dynamics and standards where men should always be numero uno: at home, in bed, and in careers or the workplace. 

It is definitely not for those who enjoy only escapist feel good movies.