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DuplicityDirected by: Tony Gilroy Cast: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Paul Giamatti, Tom Wilkinson Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: PG-13

Plot: A couple of romantically involved corporate spies (Owen and Roberts) scheme to screw two battling pharmaceutical companies out of forty million dollars.

Who’s It For? The fun of Duplicity will bode best with people that have longer attention spans and are less than demanding when it comes to action this is in your face. Being a fan of classic con films will be a plus.

Expectations: Writer-director Tony Gilroy impressed with his Oscar-nominated film Michael Clayton. That film proved his smarts, and I expected Duplicity to be a more mainstream continuation of this skill.


Actors: Clive Owen as Ray Koval: Another dapper role that has Owen turning up his charm instead of his bravado. He still wouldn't make a good James Bond, but Owen does the smart spy gig very well here. I personally think he has the ability to be the next Cary Grant (if that spot hasn't already been taken by George Clooney, of course). 
Score: 7

Julia Roberts as Claire Stenwick: The script gives her a bit of edge, but sometimes the presence of Roberts is overshadowed by the more memorable and overall more interesting Owen. At times, however, Roberts can continue to defy the age she is desperately scurrying from. 
 Score: 6

Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson as Richard Garsik and Howard Tully: Their characters are the goofy faces of the corporations they own. However, they're very amusing caricatures, each actor playing up his serious presence with a good amount of farce. Also, this is the only film where you'll see the guy from In The Bedroom body slam that loser from Sideways. Score: 7

Talking: Writer-director Tony Gilroy could slice a pinata in half with his dialogue. With Duplicity, he focuses his particular gift for wordplay on funny exchanges that are grounded in smarts. And though Owens and Roberts are easy to look at, they are even more enjoyable when they take part in verbal swordfights. Score: 8 
 Sights: You can't have espionage without serious location changes. According to the credits, Duplicity was shot in Rome, the Bahamas, and New York City. All of them look beautiful, yet oh so unattainable. If we can't afford to go to all of these places, at least the pretty people on screen can. Maybe I'm just jealous. Score: 5

Sounds: James Newton Howard delivers a soundtrack that is more eclectic than expected. It sounds like funked up hip-hop that ran into an entire aisle of salsa. Equally nice are the bits of fluid Spanish guitar heard throughout the film, which are used to - you guessed it - accentuate the romance between Owen and Roberts. A song that plays during the credits, "Being Bad" (by a band called Bitter:Sweet) recalls the goals of Howard's score, but has a bit more James Bond than anything else heard in the film. Score: 7 

Best Scene: Possibly the final scene, but many of the twists are just as fulfilling.

Ending: The film does not close without slapping us in the face with its biggest surprise of a twist.

Questions: Are the companies that Claire and Ray are selfishly trying to rip off really deserving of their con? 

 Rewatchability: The film does warrant another viewing, though it's not an immediate one. Another visit might make twists a bit more clear, and will also remind you that good, smart fun can still exist.


Duplicity is a bit more mainstream than a suit-and-tie thriller like Michael Clayton, and recalls the twisting pizzazz of something like Ocean's Eleven. It is the work of a writer-director who knows exactly what he's doing. In fact, the strength of Gilroy's script tends to overshadow the many talented actors who are bringing it to life. Though in a few patches Duplicity reduces its speed a bit too much, the film is a very decent bag of pretzels that mature, intellectual audiences can chew on with little regret.

Final Score: 7/10

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