Share on social media
Find More Watercooler Picks
An ambitious, newly-engaged couple works at the same New York hedge and is forced to hide their relationship from their coworkers. But when one of them gets a promotion, their professional and personal lives start to intertwine in dangerous ways.
Former Bridgerton lead Phoebe Dynevor stars as one half of the central couple, trading in the corset for a blazer. Her other half is played by Alden Ehrenreich, the latest Han Solo from Solo: A Star Wars Story.
At a high-tension investment firm where millions of dollars are on the line, every decision feels like life or death. And for Emily and Luke, a pair of junior analysts who happen to be secretly dating, their whole lives hinge on what happens at work. So when Emily snags the promotion it looked like Luke might get, their plan of mutually assured success is shaken.
Fair Play tracks their ever-changing shifts in power and tests how far they’re willing to go to get to the top. With every next move, though, there are ramifications that ricochet through their personal lives. Success becomes intertwined with sex, and more acutely, gender, when Luke begins to feel emasculated by Emily’s wins. They teeter precariously on the knife’s edge between sex and violence, and a bubble of tension grows, threatening to pop.
The film explores workplace gender dynamics from a kaleidoscope of angles without coming down on a particular message. Emily and Luke are both cutthroat and flawed. There is plenty of critique of the boys’ club that is high finance, as Luke overhears the crass things his coworkers say about his fiancé when they think no one is listening. It’s also a true character study of one couple; a nicely small story that doesn’t fret too much with other characters, but rests squarely on the central conflict for the whole runtime.
The thrill of watching Fair Play is following Emily and Luke’s moment-to-moment dynamic shifts. Their argument scenes are meaty and vibrant, sometimes edging on melodramatic, but the imagined stakes are felt. There’s an edge-of-your-seat propulsion to the way this film unfolds, with rarely a dull moment felt. It’s also a cautionary tale of male fragility, taking a commonplace anxiety of men being intimidated by women making more money than them, and taking it to worst-case-scenario ends.
Fair Play is a psychosexual thriller with equal parts boardroom and bedroom drama. It has elements of a gender issue parable in the vein of Promising Young Woman while feeling truer to the thriller genre. With plenty of Watercooler-worthy moments, it has already inspired plenty of Twitter discourse. Get in while the getting’s fresh.
A fraught date night movie. As director Chloe Domont shared with the New York Times, “Couples that have come to early screenings, you see them start to fight on their way back to the car — like the man will say something, and then his girlfriend will slowly look at him like, ‘That’s what you thought?’ So yeah, I can’t wait to break people up. I’m here for it.” Maybe best left as a friends watch.