Chloe Domont’s Fair Play is an awe-inspiring experience. This film made a huge buzz in the festival circuits, and it seems right now it was for good reason. Some may have misjudged the film because of the massive attention it received and may be misguided by their own expectations, but Fair Play deserves a fair chance. Not only is it a simple and effective story, but it’s acted really well and is a great weekend watch. The story follows a young couple who are madly in love and recently engaged. They both work at the same hedge fund, where dating colleagues is prohibited, so they have to hide their relationship. One night, Emily, the woman, gets called to a bar late at night to have a word with her senior. This is the instigating incident for the turn of events that follow.
What Happens In The Film?
At a dinner party organized by Luke’s family, Emily and Luke run off to the washroom to have a good time. Everyone wonders how Luke persuaded the beautiful Emily to get with him. He claims she has something more than just looks, though. In the washroom, things don’t turn out quite as planned, and Luke ends up dropping an engagement ring out of his pocket. Right there, with their clothes stained with period blood, Luke gets on his knees and proposes to Emily. The happy couple then get back home to start an early day at work. Emily leaves the ring behind because, it turns out, their relationship is hidden at work. They’re both analysts at a hedge fund, where dating colleagues is against the rules. It’s rather clear right off the bat that Emily is more efficient than Luke, but rumor has it that Luke is going to get the job of the new Portfolio Manager (PM) because one was just fired. Emily is the one who tells Luke the good news she’s just heard. When they get back home, at 2 a.m., Emily gets a call from her PM. Luke is just appalled, but Emily never says no when it comes to work. She’s worked really hard, and she’d do almost anything to rise up the ladder. When she gets there, it’s not her PM but the big boss himself who offers her the job of PM. He lists out her outstanding achievements to make her understand just how much she deserves it. When Emily gets back home, she doesn’t know how to break the news to Luke.
In the meantime, Luke thinks this has something to do with sexual favors. When Emily tells him the news, though, he congratulates her, almost looking happy for her. At work, Luke is Emily’s analyst, and she’s quite cutthroat as a boss. She’s better than all the other PMs, and this makes Luke more insecure. Emily tells Luke that she’ll do anything in her power to help Luke become a PM too. That way, no one will look down on them, and they can be together for real. The big bosses take Emily out to drink, and as she tries to push Luke on them, she gets shut down immediately because Luke’s always been a weak link. Campbell, the boss, was forced to hire him as a favor.
As the days go by, Luke’s paranoia gets the better of him. He takes a course to get better at what he already knows, despite Emily telling him it’s a waste of time and money. He sees her get close to the bosses and become one of the big guys, making his thoughts get darker and darker. He even comments about the way she dresses, calling her a “cupcake,” which really affects Emily. She chooses to wear a black turtleneck to work but feels suffocated by the whole thing, changing in the middle of the day. When she gets back to the office, she’s in big trouble because the investment Luke had suggested has caused a loss of $30 million. Campbell uses disrespectful cuss words to call out Emily for listening to Luke.
Furious, Emily tries everything she can to make sure she makes up for the deal. At home, she tries to sleep with Luke so they can relax a little bit, but Luke isn’t really in the mood. Emily gets a call from Campbell then, and she tells him her plan for the deal that will recover their money. He tells her to go ahead, but in the background, Luke reminds her that he doesn’t want her to take up that deal. But what he wanted her to do was illegal. Early in the morning, the deal works out, and Emily emerges victorious. She gets a huge commission on the deal and gets invited to a party by the other guys. Angry with Luke, she agrees to go to a strip club and spends a huge amount of money there. When she gets back, she makes fun of Luke and asks for a sexual favor to help him get the job of PM.
As Emily had predicted, Rory gets fired, and Luke gets down on his knees for Campbell to get the job. Campbell’s already hired someone else, though. Everything finally goes through the roof, and Emily admits to Luke that he’s disposable, so he should be the one looking for a job somewhere else. His ego has taken over, though, and he essentially runs away. At work, Emily has to give an important presentation, but Luke comes and makes a huge scene, telling everyone they’re together, even hinting that Emily tried to sexually harass him by asking for that favor. Amidst all this chaos, Emily’s mother has been trying to reach her, but because she’s always so unavailable, her parents plan a surprise engagement party for Luke and her. Her mother tells Emily about it, though, because she needs to keep herself free. That’s when Emily reveals that Luke hasn’t even told his parents about the engagement. It’s Emily’s mom who tells them, and Luke’s big “main character” moment was on the same day of the engagement party.
Does Luke Apologize To Emily?
Things escalate quickly at the engagement party, where Luke acts nonchalant about everything he’s done. Emily realizes the only way to make him feel the way she did at work is by making him announce their breakup. He calls her names and claims the only reason she got the job is because she’s a pretty girl, and even if she and Cambell never slept together, he only wanted her around as a trophy. Emily, who can’t tolerate the insults anymore, smashes a bottle on his head and storms off to the washroom. He follows her there, and they do some more yelling. This time Emily asks Luke if he could even recognize himself, looking in the mirror. Luke pushes Emily physically, revealing his true colors. Ironically, Luke thinks he’s the one who has been treated as irrelevant when Emily was the only woman in the whole company. Taken over by emotion, Luke kisses Emily, and she pushes him away, saying she hates him. When she calms down, they kiss some more, and it seems Luke is finally ready for what Emily was waiting for. Unfortunately, Luke hurts Emily, pinning her down to the sink; this is the same spot they got engaged. He went from marveling at her menstrual blood to pressing her down so hard that she got bruises on her face.
Emily lies to Campbell, saying Luke was stalking her and that she always said no, and he finally lost his mind. Campbell says any reasoning is irrelevant, and she should just let human resources take care of it because she has more important things to look at. When she gets back home, Luke is just sitting there on her couch. He announces the plan for the house and the things that they had together. Emily doesn’t hold on to her frustration anymore. She picks up a kitchen knife and tells Luke to get on his knees. “If you won’t cry for me, then I will make you bleed,” she says (unforgettable, really). Luke tries to take the knife from her, but fails and gets cut in the palm. She cuts him in the arm again, and he finally falls to his knees (this guy really likes it down there, it seems). He apologizes for everything, especially for assaulting her by saying the words she asks him to, finally making him cry miserably. In the end, Emily tells him to wipe his blood off her floor and get out of her life. Showing him who really is on top.
Emily really knows how to play the game that is the world of finance. She realizes that Luke was always messed up when he starts questioning what she’s wearing and why she picks up her phone in the middle of the night. On one hand, it is true that the industry is a terrible place for women. When Emily sees a young woman replace Luke at work, she too feels his words in the back of her mind. In reality, Emily was always better than Luke, and she got to her position fairly. Luke was the one who wasn’t able to get the job and made million-dollar mistakes.