Plot: Two former government spies (Clive Owen & Julia Roberts)- now involved with corporate espionage, plot an elaborate con against their respective bosses (Tom Wilkinson & Paul Giamatti).
Review: DUPLICITY is writer/ director Tony Gilroyís follow up to MICHAEL CLAYTON, which was one of my top films in 2007, and really solidified Gilroy as a director to watch. With DUPLICITY, Gilroy has made yet another critique of corporate evildoers, but where MICHAEL CLAYTON was a seriously heavy drama, DUPLICITY is anything but.
Essentially, DUPLICITY is a comedy- albeit a twisty, cleverly plotted one akin to some of the lighter Alfred Hitchcock films, like TO CATCH A THIEF, or THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. Usually Iím not a fan of modern heist/ caper comedies, as Iíve been totally soured on the genre by the OCEANíS series, which Iíve never really been a fan of (although ELEVEN had its moments). Thankfully, DUPLICITY avoids the wink-wink, ďarenít we cleverĒ hipster patter of the OCEANíS film, and actually seems like a real film and not the home movies of a bunch of movie gods on vacation.
In order to really enjoy DUPLICITY, you really need to go into the film fairly cold, so Iím going to be fairly light on spoilers. The trailers have already given too much away, so if by some miracle you still havenít seen a trailer or TV spot, DO NOT watch them. Basically, Owen & Roberts play ex-spies with a complicated romantic history, that now find themselves working as corporate spooks. Roberts is working for Tom Wilkinson, whoís the CEO of a major corporation thatís on the verge of unveiling a revolutionary new product that corporate pirate Paul Giamatti is dying to get his hands on. Enter Owen, whoís working for Giamatti. The product itself isnít revealed until late in the film, but itís got to be one of the cleverest MacGuffins ever committed to celluloid, and would have made Hitchcock proud.
Both Owen & Roberts are at the top of their game here. While not exactly known for light comedy, Owen is terrific here, and itís nice to see him lighten up somewhat- bringing a Cary Grant-like charisma to the role. Iím a huge Clive Owen fan, and I think this will go a long way towards showing people that Owen is a lot more versatile than people think.
As for Roberts- sheís actually quite good. Iím not much of a Julia Roberts fan, as I think sheís incredibly over rated- but sheís perfectly suited to this role, and her chemistry with Owen is spot on. Many have commented on the fact that Robertís looks noticeably older here- as sheís been mostly off-screen for the last couple of years, but she looks great, and comments that sheís too old for the role are ludicrous, as Roberts is actually three years younger than Owen, and looks better here than she did in their last film together, CLOSER.
As expected, both Giamatti & Wilkinson are top notch. This is Giamattiís best mainstream role in years, and heís in top form. Wilkinson is also excellent, although he gets a lot less to do here than he did in MICHAEL CLAYTON, but he makes a great corporate CEO-type, and his sissy fight with Giamatti during the opening credits is great.
My only real problem with DUPLICITY came about twenty minutes after seeing the film, as the final big twist doesnít really make a heck of a lot of sense and maybe was a little too clever for its own good- although perhaps a second viewing would help clear things up a bit. All in all- I had a ball with DUPLICITY, and itís definitely a film well worth checking out.