March 21, 2009
Review - " Duplicity " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Smart, sassy and certainly lively, Duplicity is a thoroughly enjoyable two hour film. Unfortunately, the complexities of what’s
happening may confuse some onlookers. Where the film gains all of its strength is some truly sparkling dialogue between
Owen and Roberts. Together on screen they click and the sparks fly often both between the sheets and outside the
boudoir. And in case you didn’t get their flirting early on there’s no chance of overlooking it as some very clever cute lines
are repeated continually throughout this power trip.
Adding to the intensity of the situation are two top actors who play corporate heads also in a battle royal for control. Tom
Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, In the Bedroom) shines as the gutsy Howard Tully with Paul Giamatti (Shoot-em-up,
Sideways) over the top hilarious as windbag Richard Garsik. Intrigue pulls you in with two highly charismatic lead actors
who appear to be having a terrific time in this con game extravaganza that makes for an enjoyable trip to your local
Director Tony Gilroy sets the tone in the opening scene as
Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson play out a scene from the old
west — with suits on and corporate jets idling in the background.
Howard Tully (Wilkinson) and Richard Garsik (Giamatti) are rival
chief executive officers at competing hygiene and bath product
giants, and when we first see them, they're engaged in a slow-
motion sissy fight on the tarmac of a private airport. We don't know
the depth of the bad blood between them, but once the plot kicks
into gear we're certain both men would do just about anything to
defeat the other. For former government operatives Claire Stenwick
(Julia Roberts) and Ray Koval (Clive Owen), the mutual loathing
means big business.
Claire and Ray are corporate spies, and when the competition gets tough, the covert agents get busy looking for dirt,
scandal, or better yet, the patent application for their competitor's breakthrough product. When Claire gets wind that
Burkett & Randall has a miracle cream heading down the pipeline, she brings it to the attention of Garsik (Giamatti), her
boss at Omnikrom. The more she digs into the new development, the more cryptic it becomes. Private labs, midnight
Starring: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti, Tom
McCarthy, Denis O'Hare, Kathleen Chalfrant.
Directed by Tony Gilroy.
Just whose screwing who, both literally and figuratively, provides the
right tone for the merriment in Duplicity, a savvy romantic adventure
comedy from Universal Pictures now shedding light at the local Cineplex.
Watch the sparks fly between Clive Owen and Julia Roberts who play
opposite numbers in a rather complex tale of crime, greed and spying.
Global locations dominate this adventure as does a rather deceptive
time line. Through those foreign locales you feel like you’re actually in a
spy thriller of the caliber of the James Bond films. Owen plays an MI6
type agent named Ray Koval while Roberts gets top billing as the sly
Claire Stenwick, she with a CIA background. Somehow these two meet
up, grow apart and then reunite. Together both rogues are busy
safeguarding some corporate interests. Believing that there’s the
potential to cash in on their contacts the pair spring a trap to take
advantage of a rather lucrative situation. Little do they know of the
pitfalls that lay in their wait.
moves, garbage trucked to the next county and a bad-boy
inventor living it up in a cloistered resort suggest the new product
is so hot, it's going torevolutionize the entire industry.
Garsik desperately needs to know what Burke & Randall have up
their sleeve, and he's willing to pay just about anything to get
it. Ray, who's brought in as a pinch-hitter at Omnikrom. Ray and
Claire have a checkered past involving a one-night stand in
Dubai and a three-night romantic tryst in Rome, so when they're
forced to join forces under the eye of Omnikrom's head of
security (Dennis O'Hare), there's ample sexual tension — and
plenty of emotional ambiguity.
Clive Owen and Julia Roberts bring emotional edge, comic timing and dramatic chops to the plate, ensuring that every
scene — even the ones we can't really place or understand in the bigger picture — are brimming with narrative content
and multiple meanings. We just never know what's going to happen in this espionage caper, and even when we begin to
get a little whiff ofthe real yarn, we're not sure if it's in earnest or
just ramping up the subterfuge. We can't tell if the two despise
each other, or have mutual fantasies about body searches and
concealed weapons. Probably a bit of both, but we're never sure
what page the relationship is really on as the two lovers engage in
endless one-upmanship and chippy professional behaviour.
It's Mad Magazine's Spy vs Spy. Nothing is as it seems and you
can't trust anyone. With an entirely non-linear treatment that moves
back and forth through time, the narrative design becomes almost
impenetrable — suspicion and betrayal are everywhere and that's
why it's so much fun.