“I think expectations are way out of whack.”Emily
Writer-director Chloe Domont’s feature debut is a strong old-school psychological thriller, freshened by the gender dynamics at play. Emily and Luke are analysts at a Wall Street trading firm with a prohibition on employee fraternisation, forcing them to hide a passionate relationship — Fair Play opens with one of the weirder proposals committed to film — that is destablised by the power imbalance when Emily is promoted. It is plain to the audience that we are watching a doomed relationship unravel even as the characters try to salvage it, but the process is gripping throughout the majority of its two hours, aided by committed performances from both leads. Aside from a supporting role from the ever-reliable Eddie Marsan, the film rests almost entirely on Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich. Their characters are travelling inverted arcs, Emily’s compliance gradually developing into assertiveness, whilst Luke begins brashly but is undermined by feelings of emasculation. Fair Play does not shy away from sex, which is an essential part of understanding this relationship, but Domont achieves this without excessive nudity. Domont finds a conclusion to the story but it feels forced in its suddeness, and somewhat trite. Nevertheless, the journey to arrive there is consistently engrossing.