A sexy movie that doesn’t quite fuck, Fair Play is a moderately entertaining drama-thriller about careers, love, and dangerous envy that doesn’t result in the ROI you’d hope for.
Phoebe Dynevor (“Bridgerton”) stars as Emily, an up-and-coming financial analyst at a highly competitive investment firm. She’s secretly engaged to colleague Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) and they are passionately in love–well, until he gets passed over for a coveted promotion in favor of Emily. Things spiral from there.
We don’t get many erotic thrillers these days, and while Fair Play may not fully land in that category, it’s close enough. There is naughty sex, there are secrets, and there are good-looking leads who the average person would want to see in various stages of undress.
Dynevor and Ehrenrecih have simmering chemistry with one another, which helps elevate the material by writer/director Chloe Domont. They screw, they spar, and life goes on. Their relationship, set against a boiler room of masculine energy and high-stakes gambles, is intriguing, even sexy, though I’d argue the dynamic between the three stars of the first season of the TV show Billions is a more powerful, explosive, and satisfying mix of stock market trading and romance.
What holds Fair Play back is its semi-limp third act. Domont goes the easy route, turning gaslighting expert Luke into a full-fledged incel, while Dynevor puts up with way more than she should have. A more fascinating route would have kept their battles under the sheets, the pressure building internally more than exploding into the open the way it does. Even a certain “rough” scene near the climax doesn’t get handled particularly well; it’s understandable why it’s in the movie, but what follows doesn’t feel thought through.
By Netflix standards, Fair Play is one of their better movies. But it needed to be juicer, to be more willing to let go of convention, to really fly. To really fuck.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.