The advice included within Eve Rodsky’s book “Fair Play,” a guide to sharing domestic labor and achieving harmony in the home, won’t blow your mind. A woman’s time is as valuable as a man’s? Who knew! But there is a fortifying effect to arranging these axioms in sequence.
The documentary “Fair Play,” directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom (“The Great American Lie”) and based on Rodsky’s book, reproduces its lucidity by positioning interviews with real families alongside Rodsky’s directives. While its stylings, including perky music and cutesy graphics, can sometimes verge on trite, its insights and guidance are encouraging, actionable and necessary.
As our talking-head guide, Rodsky is amiable cinematic company. She describes growing up as the latchkey kid of a single mother, and how the strains she faced in her youth informed her values as a wife and mom. An admirable frankness guides her testimony: Rodsky recounts instances of feeling angry at her husband, and describes the specific ways that she coached him in the art of taking ownership over household tasks.
The film’s arguments hit harder in the wake of the pandemic’s lockdowns, which the documentary suggests found moms bearing the brunt of the stress. But most vital is the film’s look at where the United States falls short in its support of parents, particularly its limited access to subsidized child care. The burden of invisible labor can be mitigated on a case-by-case basis, but at the end of the day, it is the system that needs to change.