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Movie Reviews

New Netflix Thriller ‘Fair Play’ isn’t All That Thrilling

Fair Play is the new Netflix feature film, starring Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor. The trailer is below. Note that this film is rated R for pervasive language, sexual content, nudity, and sexual violence.

When a coveted promotion at a cutthroat financial firm arises, once supportive exchanges between lovers Emily (Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) begin to sour into something more sinister. As the power dynamics irrevocably shift in their relationship, the couple must face the true price of success and the unnerving limits of ambition. In her feature debut, writer-director Chloe Domont (Ballers, Shooter) weaves a taut relationship thriller, staring down the destructive gender dynamics that pit partners against each other in a world that is transforming faster than the rules can keep up. Also starring Eddie Marsan, Rich Sommer, and Sebastian De Souza, Fair Play unravels the uncomfortable collision of empowerment and ego.

The trailer makes Fair Play seem more thrilling and more of an erotic thriller than it actually is. The film doesn’t justify its runtime of 113 minutes, there is a large chunk of it in the middle that seems to just be Alden Ehrenreich’s character sulking.

Phoebe Dynevor (Bridgerton, Younger) plays Emily and Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story, Hail, Caesar!) is Luke. Once Emily gets the promotion that Luke was expecting to get, the tension between the two of them rises. I felt like it was a little unrealistic how they went from perfect couple goals to Luke not even wanting to look at Emily or kiss her or engage with her at all overnight. The balance of power went heavily in Emily’s favor, although it makes sense for him to be sad that he didn’t get the promotion, he acted extremely childish. He definitely has a fragile ego.

Dynevor does a good job with the material and really makes the most out of the role, her character arc is developed a little better and the change in her is more gradual than with Luke. Ehrenreich does his best but it is hard to make a character like Luke all that sympathetic. They have good chemistry together but the turns in the script were a little harsh for me.

Fair Play. (center) Phoebe Dynevor as Emily and (center right) Alden Ehrenreich as Luke in Fair Play. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix

The ending wasn’t great and really felt underwhelming. Perhaps if you don’t watch the trailer you won’t be disappointed at the understated nature of Fair Play. The trailer is strong and sells a more exciting, pulsating film than what was delivered.

Netflix bought this film for $20 million at Sundance so they obviously believe in its appeal. The film got a strong reaction at the festival, one that invited a mini bidding war, but it seems like one of those films that plays well in a festival atmosphere but falls a little flat elsewhere.

Fair Play is supposed to be a thriller, but it isn’t thrilling enough. I’m not sure it knows what it wants to be, erotic thriller, relationship drama or a business drama. It’s really not erotic enough to be an erotic thriller but that seems to be its main aim. Some of the drama turns into melodrama. It might be entertaining enough to pass the time with a glass of wine in the evening, but it does drag a little in the middle. The cast save the film from being a waste of time, but I would temper expectations before pressing play.

Fair Play is released worldwide on Netflix, October 6th 2023.

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