Is Phoebe Dynevor's 'Fair Play' Netflix's Best 2023 Movie?

Fair Play Luke Alden Ehrenreich Emily Phoebe Dynevor Netflix
Netflix

Powerful and provocative turnabout is undoubtedly “Fair Play” in writer/director Chloe Domont’s searing psychological thriller on Netflix. A promotion marks the turning point for a young couple living, loving, and working together in the ruthless world of a hedge fund.

When “Fair Play” begins, Emily (Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) are a pair of professionals in messy, blissful love with one another. Hot on the heels of their engagement, their work life gets a jolt when Emily overhears mumblings that Luke has been tapped for a promotion to PM.

Prioritizing her supportive fiancรฉ hat before her professional priorities, Emily makes the mistake of telling Luke what she has heard. Luke is thrilled. There is only one problem. Luke has not earned any such promotion -- Emily has. Thus, setting the stage for “A Star is Born” style wrinkle.

What follows is a tightly woven, suspensefully told story. Netflix’s “Fair Play” conveys so many personal frustrations in one fell swoop that it almost left this viewer giddy with glee. The excuses that failures make for why they fail. (It is never their fault.) How narcissists operate when they feel threatened by the truth of their capabilities. (Scary, angry.) 

It is all here.

Life with a narcissist can be hard to spot. As the word gets thrown around with little restraint these days, people may need a refresher on its intended targets. Watching “Fair Play” gives a more than fair look into the twisted reality they often hide inside. They must work overtime to protect a fragile truth their carefully constructed ego aims to protect at all costs. 

They do not have what it takes to succeed, and they know it. As “Fair Play” so dutifully illustrates, narcissists are at their most dangerous when backed into the corner of exposure. Writer/director Chloe Domont’s dialogue-laden script is brilliant, sharp, and worth watching the film twice to catch again. 

In a year of average movies, “Fair Play” marks one of the year’s first English-language films to be great. Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich, and Eddie Marsan all turn in riveting performances that fit like a power broker’s suit. Even with a custom fit, they find room to breathe with nuanced micro-moments that tell a story without words.

If Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich, and Chloe Domont are ignored this awards season, it will just be further proof of how out of touch those “contests” are.

This is not only an engaging Netflix movie. It is important. The political undercurrent of a male/female relationship is finally splayed out in an informative, messy way that does not miss a beat. At its core, though, is what that relationship looks like when one party is a raging narcissist, and “Fair Play” nails it.

“Fair Play” is currently streaming on Netflix.

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