Sundance goes wild for sexy corporate thriller ‘Fair Play’

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The fire emoji was a common sight in tweets about the new corporate thriller “Fair Play,” which debuted Friday at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film follows two aspiring analysts at a ruthless hedge fund, played by “Bridgerton’s” Phoebe Dynevor and “Solo’s” Alden Ehrenreich, who also have a passionate and secretive relationship. Several steamy scenes had some heralding the return of the erotic thriller.

Film historian Karina Longworth, whose podcast “You Must Remember This” recently delved into the erotic thriller moment of the 1980s, tweeted, “It does to the 2020s what ‘Fatal Attraction’ did to the late 80s.”

Chloe Domont, who wrote and directed the film, said she didn’t necessarily set out to make an erotic thriller.

But “I did intend to make a thriller about the dynamics of gender power within a relationship that happens to be highly sexual,” Domont told The The Bharat Express News in Park City on Saturday. “I think the execution of that intent ultimately turned the erotic thriller genre on its head.”

Dynevor, only in her second film role, said that when she read Domont’s script, she saw herself and many women she knows in her character, Emily, who appears to be the only woman in the company. She becomes even more aware of this when she is promoted over Luke van Ehrenreich.

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“How she navigates work life in a very male-dominated industry and how she navigates her relationship and, you know, has to make herself smaller in a lot of ways to make other people feel comfortable, I can relate to that “Dynevor said. .

Ehrenreich’s character comes from a more privileged background than Emily. He is Ivy League trained and expects a certain amount of success. But he also rolls his eyes at his colleagues’ casual misogyny and, at least initially, supports Emily’s ascent.

“I think he’s a bit removed from the rest of the office. He’s not quite part of that boys’ club,’ Ehrenreich said.

“One of the things I really liked about the movie that I think is sometimes lacking in stories that deal with issues like this is understanding the background and the system and the culture that all of that takes place in,” he continued. “It’s not about one person being a good person or a bad person. We are all strongly influenced by our environment and the ambitions we have within that environment.”

The film has already sparked a gender debate among those who have seen it, as Domont makes sure she never goes down the cliché route with her characters. The audience’s sympathies may even shift from scene to scene between Luke and Emily. Dynevor was firmly on Emily’s side reading the script and during filming, but when she watched the final product, something changed.

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“I saw it more as him and her as a culprit of society and a victim of society, as opposed to, as if someone were a bad guy or a goodie,” she said.

‘Fair Play’, which is on sale at the festival, is Domont’s directorial debut on the big screen. But high-finance drama isn’t new to her: She’s also helmed episodes of Showtime’s “Billions.”

“My interest in that world starts with, you know, ‘Wall Street’ and ‘Working Girl’ and like those movies,” Domont said. “But for me it’s the stakes. You have high stakes, you have drama.

“One day you make money, the next day you lose money. … You live at a high altitude and you think you’re the (expletive), or the next day you think you’re a worthless piece (expletive),’ Domont added. “What that does to a person, the fluctuating between those highs and lows, I recognize in the film industry. … I was dealing with what that environment does to a person.

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Serbia plays New York in the film, which came about pretty quickly, but the three leads made sure to carve out time to establish an authentic intimacy between Ehrenreich and Dynevor.

“We spent a few days rehearsing what I thought was really valuable, and it’s so rare that you do that,” Ehrenreich said. “It makes such a huge, huge difference, especially in a movie like this, when two people have been together and so much of the movie is their relationship and the details of that.”

That included improvisations from Emily’s first day at the office and Luke’s first time telling her he loves her.

“It really felt like it really locked something in,” Ehrenreich said. “That’s something magical that’s worth fighting for in almost any movie, especially any movie that’s about, you know, a relationship of any kind.”

They also worked with an intimacy coordinator to stage the sex scenes.

“Chloe is such a phenomenal director and was always pushing us to go further and further, which was so exciting as an actor,” Dynevor said. “And we both felt very safe doing that.”

The Sundance Film Festival runs through January 29.

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Follow TBEN film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr.

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