Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich deliver two of the best performances of the year in this brilliantly tense and erotic psychological thriller about power dynamics, gender roles, and sex. In her feature debut, writer-director Chloe Domont crafts a film that takes place in the high-stakes, cutthroat world of finance where two lovers get vicious after one of them gets promoted. Luke and Emily appear to be living the dream. They are young, ambitious, and deeply passionate for each other who have great aspiring careers at an aggressive finance firm. However, they are forced to hide their recent engagement as dating a co-worker is a big no no at work. But once Emily gets the promotion that Luke was rumored to get – their undying love becomes an all- out war.
Along with Domont’s sharp script and Brian McOmber’s superb score, Fair Play deliciously relishes in the cruelty, the sexiness, the personal insecurities, and the hideousness of a relationship going off the rails. The difference in Luke and Emily’s first sex scene compared to their last shows just how appalling things have gotten. Ehrenreich stuns as a prideful guy who knows finance is in his blood and only needs that one opportunity to prove it. However, his perception is different than his boss’ (Eddie Marsan being incredibly insidious). He’s nothing more than a favor to a friend, and Emily does all she can to change that, but there’s no stopping Luke after he feels emasculated and sets off on his downward spiral, dragging Emily down with him.
At the beginning, it’s a little easy to underestimate Emily, yet her strength shines through as she fights to obtain and hang on to what she’s worked her ass off for – personally and professionally. She works in a male dominated industry and isn’t going to be shamed or dismissed by anyone. She endures so much through the film’s duration, being emotionally and mentally torn a part, and Dynevor is extraordinary in exhibiting the toll it takes and the resolve she will need to be the last one standing. Luke isn’t the only one who can get nasty.
Fair Play is a love turned venomous in a fucked up voyage that’s riveting and unpredictable. We watch with anxiousness and astonishment as Emily and Luke’s relationship bends more and more, and we know it’s not a question of if but when is it going to snap. And when it finally does…destruction and devastation ensue as they each reach the point of no return.
Brandon Vick is a member of The Music City Film Critics’ Association and the Southeastern Film Critics Association, the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and the star of The Vick’s Flicks Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.
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