“When Fair Play (2023) made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, it quickly captured the spotlight, securing a remarkable deal with Netflix. Upon closer examination, it becomes evident that this film aligns with the type of erotic thriller content that the streaming platform has eagerly sought to release for some time.”
“Fair Play (2023) is a riveting exploration of the dark and alluring intricacies of power dynamics, delving deep into the psychological struggles they unleash. The narrative unfolds within the relentless world of an investment firm, focusing on Emily (Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke (Alden Ehrenreich), a couple whose bond is put to the ultimate test as their professional lives take an unexpected twist.
In this comprehensive analysis, we’ll delve into the captivating world of Fair Play. If you haven’t had the chance to experience this film, I highly recommend watching it before diving into this discussion.
Fair Play (2023) ‘Netflix’ Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The story unfolds as the film begins with a lavish reception celebrating Luke’s uncle’s wedding. Amid the festivities, Luke and Emily find a moment of intimacy in a restroom, revealing their deep affection for each other. After two years of dating, Luke decides it’s time to propose, and Emily, equally enamored, eagerly accepts.
Returning to their apartment, Emily can’t wait to share the news with her mother. However, the following morning brings a shift in their relationship dynamics. It’s not that their love has waned, but they both have demanding jobs at Crest Capital, an investment firm that frowns upon workplace romances. Luke and Emily, who are also professional competitors, must keep their relationship a secret due to the company’s strict policies.
On the same day, Quinn, Luke’s current boss and a Portfolio manager at the firm, is abruptly fired. In a fit of anger, he trashes his office before storming out. His departure sparks speculation that Luke might be promoted to replace him. Emily overhears colleagues discussing this rumor, and she excitedly shares it with Luke when they return home.
Both of them were deeply convinced that Luke was on the brink of a promotion, reigniting their passionate connection. However, this certainty wavered when Emily’s phone rang, and a colleague requested a meeting at a nearby bar. It was the first time Luke’s true colors surfaced, revealing a hint of toxicity as he insinuated that the call might be driven by their coworkers’ questionable intentions toward Emily. Emily was taken aback by this display of jealousy but hurried off to her meeting.
Upon arriving at the bar, Emily encountered Campbell, the highest-ranking official at Crest Capital, who commended her exceptional performance at the firm. To Emily’s surprise, he offered her Quinn’s position, essentially promoting her to a role where she would become Luke’s superior. Campbell justified his decision by pointing out Luke’s less-than-stellar reputation within the office. Despite Emily’s elation at the well-deserved recognition of her hard work, she couldn’t fully savor the moment, weighed down by concerns about how Luke would react to the news.
Fair play (2023):Jealousy in fiance’s promotion
“When she returns home and shares the news of her promotion with Luke, he expresses happiness and excitement for her. However, it becomes evident that a significant rift is emerging in their relationship at this point. Emily suggests using her new position to secure a well-deserved promotion for Luke, but he insists on earning it based on his own merit. This exposes a substantial male ego and underlying jealousy within Luke, despite Emily being his fiancée.
In the days that follow, Luke’s behavior takes a noticeable turn. Emily, who loves him unconditionally, is concerned that the promotion is affecting him, but Luke’s self-centered nature prevents him from acknowledging it. Despite Luke’s discouragement, Emily, worried about his well-being, informs Campbell about Luke’s hard work in hopes of helping him secure a significant promotion. Unfortunately, Emily’s efforts take an unexpected turn when Campbell reveals that Luke’s risk-taking nature has been detrimental to the firm, rather than profitable.
Luke’s jealousy and behavior :
“When Emily returns home, attempting to maintain a boundary between her personal and professional life, she notices a shift in Luke’s demeanor. He no longer separates the two aspects of their relationship, and as they continue to explore each other intimately, Luke begins to distance himself emotionally. Emily senses his growing detachment and tries to extend her support beyond their passionate moments, but Luke becomes reluctant to open up.
Luke’s behavior, driven by his bruised ego, starts manifesting in his interactions with Emily. He delves into self-help resources in an effort to regain his confidence at work. Emily, aware that Campbell has only retained Luke based on a recommendation, strives to avoid undermining him. However, Luke takes a different approach, directing his jealousy at her through gaslighting and criticism of her professional image and attire.
As these issues unfold within their home, Luke’s misogyny and sexist remarks begin to deeply trouble Emily. Following a well-deserved promotion, she decides to unwind and enjoy herself, inadvertently provoking a negative reaction from Luke. He transforms into someone unrecognizable, accusing Emily of infidelity and insinuating that her promotion was achieved through inappropriate means rather than merit.”
Luke’s professional decline
Self-help books proved ineffective for Luke, leading to a decline in his professional performance. Emily continued to support him, but Luke’s risky financial move resulted in a significant loss for the company. Emily stepped in to mitigate the damage, but even she began to lose confidence in Luke’s abilities.
As Luke’s situation worsened, he asked Emily for assistance, yet failed to apologize for his recent behavior towards her. When another portfolio manager was terminated, Luke took matters into his own hands and appealed to Campbell for his case, but without success. This desperate plea strained his dignity, leading to a breakdown, and he went AWOL.
However, his behavior took a drastic turn when, after a few days, he arrived at the office in a highly intoxicated and irrational state, creating a disruptive scene in front of everyone. Shockingly, his visit seemed solely aimed at jeopardizing Emily’s job. Despite the significance of the day for Emily, he went out of his way to publicly criticize Campbell and the company, possibly in response to prior humiliations, and then abruptly resigned.
Before departing, he dropped a bombshell revelation that added even more tension to the situation. Luke confessed that he had been involved in a secret romantic relationship with Emily for the past two years, despite it being a clear violation of company policy.
Fair Play (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Ending Explained:
Luke’s abrupt reversal left Emily both bewildered and furious, and she prepared herself for what seemed like an inevitable showdown. However, the timing couldn’t have been worse, as it was the day of their engagement party, hosted by Emily’s parents, and Luke managed to sneak in before Emily even arrived.
Emily was taken aback to witness that, despite their deteriorating relationship, Luke’s stubborn male ego still had a hold on him. Upon her arrival, a heated and acrimonious exchange erupted between Luke and Emily, marked by a flurry of accusations. The confrontation escalated to a point where Emily, in a moment of intense anger, broke a beer bottle on Luke’s head.
As the argument escalated to a more private setting, within the venue’s bathroom, Emily confronted Luke about the true cause of their deteriorating relationship. She made it clear that their issues weren’t solely tied to the promotion but rooted in Luke’s inability to acknowledge that a woman could excel in the job he coveted. Emily passionately expressed that if the roles were reversed, society would expect her to accept it gracefully.
In a disturbing twist, the intensity of the argument somehow led to a sexual encounter between the couple. However, the power struggle extended beyond the bedroom, with Emily feeling that Luke’s need for dominance remained unchecked. He forcibly imposed himself on her, even when she pleaded for him to stop, using physical force to assert control and degrade her. Emily desperately wished they could salvage their relationship, but Luke’s fragile ego had taken a destructive turn, leading their dynamic to a troubling and abusive place.
Fair play (2023):He raped her
Subsequently, Emily, her face and body bearing painful bruises, summons her strength and determination to rebuild the career her partner had maliciously undermined.
The conclusion of their tumultuous journey unfolds within the confines of their shared apartment. Upon her return, Emily is met with the sight of Luke, who has packed his belongings and intends to depart, seeking a fresh start elsewhere. This stark departure leaves Emily with a profound sense of injustice, as she had hoped that after enduring their turbulent journey, he would be humbled and remorseful, yet he departs without seeking forgiveness.
As Emily attempts to make Luke aware of his actions, he stubbornly clings to his ego and shifts blame onto her, asserting that their shared experiences were her fault as well. This response is characteristic of someone whose pride has been wounded, a person who believes that a woman’s attainment of power is solely due to her gender, not her abilities.
Luke’s face remains devoid of guilt, pushing Emily to her breaking point. She grasps a knife and brandishes it in his direction. Luke, confident in his perceived power, attempts to wrest the weapon away, but Emily, having reached her limit, summons all her strength and slashes the knife at him, forcing him to his knees.
Faced with the undeniable consequences of his actions, Luke finally breaks down, shedding tears, and offers a heartfelt apology, pleading for Emily’s forgiveness and reconciliation. At this moment, Emily delivers a final blow to his shattered dignity. She instructs him to clean his own blood from her apartment’s floor and leave.
Fair play (2023):Conclusion
The conclusion of “Fair Play” in 2023 can be viewed as a victory for Emily, albeit at a steep cost, as it comes on the heels of Luke’s betrayal of her trust and violation of her body. It underscores the theme of a woman’s struggle to find her freedom and maintain her sanity within a toxic and insecure relationship—a revelation that only becomes apparent through a significant shift in the power dynamics of their story.
Emily earnestly strives to salvage their relationship, but the true nature of a narcissistic personality is often revealed during their darkest moments. The film’s climax poignantly illustrates the formidable challenge women face in reclaiming control over their lives while navigating a world still predominantly influenced by male dominance.