Despite his significant successes over the past fifteen years, director Doug Liman effectively called his career a bit of a failure today at the Cannes Film Festival. Or, at the very least, he admitted that he’s never achieved his ultimate goals with a movie, until now.
Liman was praised in Cannes today for “Fair Game,” his fifth feature film since breaking through with “Swingers” in 1996. With the new film, a look at the infamous CIA leak involving Valerie Plame and Joe WIlson, Liman is aiming to balance a movie that appeals to audiences while also standing for something.
“This is what I’ve been trying to do my whole career,” Liman said today at the Cannes Film Festival, “To try and come up with films that are both entertaining and meaningful. I’ve not succeeded so well in the past.”
He said that with “The Bourne Identity” he’d hoped to tell a story that took another look at the Iran Contra affair. The message ultimately fell to the wayside. “Nobody got it,” Liman realizing.
Later, with his FOX TV series, “The O.C.” he wanted to use the show as a way to explore more serious issues, like immigration reform.
“Fox said, ‘No you’re not,'” Liman recalled today.
In “Fair Game,” Liman captures the CIA leak scandal the preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the the impact that it had a couple’s marriage. Naomi Watts stars as outed secret agent Valerie Plame WIlson and Sean Penn plays her husband, Joseph Wilson as Liman carefully navigates the broader political story and the more specific family drama.
“I’ve failed in the past,” Liman reiterated goodnaturedly, praising the collaboration with Bill Pohlad, Participant Media and actors Penn and Watts as the added elements that make him so proud of this movie.
“This is something that I’ve been trying to do,” Liman reiterated, “This film is a step forward for me.”