Fair Play | TIFF 2023 | Review by: Benjamin Garrett
Fair Play is a pressure cooker in movie form. It continuously builds tension with little to no relief, raising the stakes with every passing moment. A razor sharp screenplay brought to life through two excellent performances makes for an edge-of-your-seat thriller you don’t want to miss.
This is the debut feature of Director Chloe Domont, who also penned the script. It’s clear from the get-go that she’s got a strong understanding of gender politics in a cutthroat business environment, and how power dynamics can consume a fragile mind. The movie is billed as an erotic thriller, and while sexuality does play an important role, that spark is quickly extinguished. It’s painful watching a relationship filled with passion and physical desire decay into one filled with jealousy and contempt, but it’s one hell of a ride.
Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich compliment and contrast each other really well. It’s easy to believe their romantic and carnal chemistry when we’re first introduced to them, which makes their emotional and professional tug of war all the more discomforting. The stark contrast between ambition and a bold sense of entitlement is conveyed perfectly through their performances. You’ll feel every ounce of anxiety, jealousy, and uncertainty as they struggle to navigate a new professional dynamic eating away at their relationship. Seriously, sparks fly between them, but not always loving ones.
You’ll beg for a bit of solace as the mounting tension becomes almost too much to handle. You won’t get it though, as things continue to spiral. Even when there’s no dialogue, you’ll feel it all. When that simmer eventually comes to a boil, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. The way it all builds without letting up is outstanding, and although the final moments are a touch melodramatic, it isn’t enough to derail the nearly two hours of sublime tension.
Fair Play is smart, sexy and masterful in its steady build-up of nail biting tension. In addition to giving us two explosive, career best performances from Dynevor and Ehrenreich, this debut puts Chloe Domont on the map as a filmmaker to watch.