TIFF 2023: Fair Play Proves Just How Far is Too Far

28 September 2023 / by Nicole. Soroka
Fair Play 2023
TIFF 2023: Fair Play Proves Just How Far is Too Far
Netflix’s risqué thriller shows that all is fair in the world of love and power

When passionate romance mixes with money-hungry Wall Street investment firms, the chances of love’s survival are slim, but are they none?


Fair Play, inspired by the 2019 novel of the same name, stars Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich, and Eddie Marsan. Directed by Chloe Domont, the movie was filmed in Serbia throughout early 2022 and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival before having its world debut at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September. The film has received an 84 percent critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, gaining the title of “Certified Fresh”. Fair Play explores the depths of gender dynamics within Wall Street and how women in power are treated in a male-dominated field. Additionally, it provides a magnifying glass into the sudden power imbalance within a sexually-driven relationship. 


Fair Play introduces Emily (Dynevor) and Luke (Ehrenreich), a newly engaged couple who work together at a hedge fund firm on Wall Street. Unfortunately, for their work dynamic, they are forced to keep their relationship a secret from everyone within their work lives. From the very beginning, it is clear that their relationship is powered by physical intimacy, with the basis of their relationship relying on the couple’s ability to act on the tension at home that had been building from their inability to speak at work. The two are clearly head-over-heels in love. However, all goes awry when Emily receives a large promotion at work that she previously believed Luke would be given. Luke presents a happy front for his fiance–after all, he truly would be happy if he hadn’t lost a race he wasn’t aware Emily was even in. As time goes on and the stress of working under his partner wears on his behaviour, he begins to lose interest in the physical side of their relationship. The domino effect continues, with an increasingly frustrated Emily working harder than she ever has before to impress her boss at work and to keep her relationship alive. But, how far will Emily go in order to hold onto a future with Luke? Is there a fight to be won in the game of love over power, or will Emily and Luke’s relationship ultimately crumble under the weight of their careers?


Fair Play offers a fascinating watch; it’s a story that is all too real in our world but is masked with sensual, risky thrill. Both Dynevor and Enrenreich deliver stunning performances that make the audience believe they are truly working under the weight of Wall Street money grabbers. The story is dark, yet perfectly intoxicating, creating a beautifully told drama. Unfortunately, the film ends with an over-the-top storyline that does not fit in with the characters’ personalities. While the plot escalates, the severity to which the writers take the story feels unfitting. The characters’ actions become too unrealistic, which is disappointing following the film’s #MeToo aspects and lifelike gender dynamics. It is hard to watch what the couple suffer through as their career drives a wedge between them. It can also be easy to try and create a version of yourself that you believe your partner will find desirable, which is another point made throughout the film. Ultimately, the characters’ final few actions simply do not align with the personalities that the filmmakers create throughout the bulk of this film, which is its downfall. Overall, this is a vividly told story, one that holds viewers’ attention through its thoughtful use of dark drama and thrilling relationships. 


Don’t miss Fair Play on Netflix, streaming October 13.