Directed by Tony Gilroy
Starring: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen
Review by Matthew Toffolo
A pair of corporate spies (Owen and Roberts) who share a steamy past hook up to pull off the ultimate con job on their respective bosses — but can they learn to truly love and trust one another?
If there is any type of film that I am biased about, it's the figuring out who done it/how to pull off a great con in a complex step by step plan film. I love these movies, perhaps because I personally am exactly like these people.
No, I am not a conman, but I do like to make a plan and these plans are usually very complex and hard to pull off. The trick is to bring something to the world without having any trace that you are the one who did it. OR, in the case of these types of film, pulling off a scam without people realizing that you pulled off the scam.
Duplicity has the right title because this is the type of film that is part thriller, part romantic comedy, part crime drama. You don't really know what you're getting into when you sit down to watch it and the film's overall TONE is the exact opposite in the film's trailer and marketing concept to sell the movie to audiences. They are trying to tell us one thing whereas the film itself is another thing entirely. And people might be thrown off because of it.
I do have to admit I was very confused by these selling trailers because Director and Writer Tony Gilroy is not the type to make an all out romantic comedy. He's the man who wrote the screenplay's for all three Bourne movies and then gave us the terrific Michael Clayton in 2007, a film that I consider to be the most underrated film of this decade.
Gilroy's overall writing (and now directing) grammar is about people caught in the complex corporate system of our society. And how these people are all just ponds on the chess board who can easily be killed off without a hitch to serve and benefit their overall game. And his character's journeys are their attempts to beat the system and come out clean. But you can never come out clean as soon as you enter the game.
Duplicity is just like his past films with the only difference being that there is a love story in between the moments of the capitalism game. Clive Owen and Julia Robert's characters have come up with their own scheme to beat the big boys at their game. So for two hours we watch to see if they will win this game and outduel the masters at their own game or not. And there is definitely a surprise ending that will occur, something that I was shocked about.
Interesting thing about screen connections. Clive Owen and Julia Roberts definitely have fantastic chemistry. They are this generations Bogart and Bacall. We love them and want them to be together as soon as we see them. There are 7 scenes in the film of them just standing across from each other talking and nothing else and we are completely into it emotionally. Only two people with on screen connection like this can pull this off. And Gilroy uses it to his advantage.
The key to Duplicity is for us to like and believe that these two characters are in love with each other. They are both the middle-management version of the spy game and know they only have a short time left. And what's next for them? Is there a spy retirement home? These characters want to get away and they have figured out a plan to make some money and scam the people who have been scamming them for years.
All I can say is that you should never underestimate the Chief Operating Officers of gigantic corporations. They are on top for a reason. (but of course as of the writing of this review 21/03/2009, there is a certain rolling of the eyes with a comment like that)
I enjoyed this film and I can't wait to see what Gilroy does next. And Julia Roberts seems to have really leaped as an actress. After Mike Nichols shot her in Closer (2004), Ms. Roberts is letting the cinematographers of her films to shoot her anyway that suits her role and overall theme of the movie she's in. If you look at her past film roles, she is always shot from a Hollywood angle and there is never a hair out of place. The older she's getting, the more free she's becoming. And it usually works the opposite for female stars.
This movie might get lost in the shuffle in 2009, but it’s an entertaining movie that should be seen.