Fair Play

Why employees dating each other isn’t a good idea.

“Fair Play” is a drama that has us thinking long after it’s over. Is there a good reason why employees dating is not usually a good sign, especially in such a high stakes company? There probably is, especially if one of them gets a promotion, and the other feels overshadowed. Can this relationship and this promotion put them on a dark path? Probably so, according to what I’m seeing in this movie.

We meet two analysts at a cutthroat hedge fund in NYC, who are also secretly and madly in love with each other. One night, Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) pops the question to Emily (Phoebe Dynevor), and she says “Yes.” So, all is right with the world. They can live happily ever after.

She then becomes promoted to PM by their shifty boss Campbell (Eddie Marsan). At least, he looks shifty based on his dispositions. Maybe this could help the couple financially with their lives. Of course, they both acknowledge that the girl would make more money than the boy. Not that it’s a big deal or anything, because it isn’t.

Of course, there is a guy who used to work at this company and throws a tantrum when he’s let go. He curses and explodes at the current bosses, while being pulled out of the building by security guards.

“It’s probably nothing,” they would assume. Or is it?

Unfortunately, that moment was just a hiccup compared to what will happen later on in the story. As Emily’s promotion makes her more powerful, their relationship gets destroyed. Luke is the weakest employee at the hedge fund, while she earns her status, and it all explodes with one fell swoop.

Do I understand a word these hedge fund employees say? No, I do not. I’m not even sure I described them right. But what I do understand is the consequences of employee relationships, and the performances from both Dynevor and Ehrenreich are profoundly excellent. They transcend from a happy couple to enemies, and there are decisions that really push them away from each other. And the last 45 minutes really blows up with great intensity, immoral decisions, and dangerous dialogue.

Writer/director Chloe Domont draws these characters in such unexpected circumstances, that when they’re angry, you’re angry, too. “Fair Play” is her feature debut, and already, I can tell she knows how to direct an entertaining thriller. Last May, I gave a mixed-to-positive reaction to “Sanctuary,” which was about a toxic relationship between a wealthy young man and his demanding dominatrix. Even though I couldn’t completely understand it, I still liked it for the performances and direction. If I had to choose between these two films, I would go for “Fair Play,” because you actually acknowledge the complications of romance within the workplace.

I watched this virtually at the Sundance Film Festival, and for months, I’ve been thinking about this kind of challenge. You know that one where the young man would resort to drastic measures and the girl would criticize him for his actions. “What am I saying?,” you’re asking. I can’t say. It’s all in the chain of reactions. One thing leads to another. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy proposes to girl. Girl gets promoted. Boy and girl have a fight. And it all falls apart.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.

In Select Theaters This Friday

Premieres on Netflix October 13

Categories: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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