Duplicity (2009) Tony Gilroy

Production Budget: $60 million

Worldwide Gross: $78 million


Corporate spies Ray (Clive Owen) and Claire (Julia Roberts) collaborate to pull a con on both their bosses (played by Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti).


I was anticipating the follow up to new director Tony Gilroy, after the great Michael Clayton. However watching Duplicity I became more aware that Gilroy fell into the sophomore slump that catches so many directors and stars. I found myself really hating this movie at times. This movie is confusing, and intentionally so. Gilroy wants to jerk his audience around, and takes the opportunity to throw a twist every ten minutes. Because of that, you can’t really get into the plot because you know some bullsh*t is going to get chucked out which invalidates everything you have seen.


Now, I’m not saying a movie has to be simple and I can point to several movies I own which have shifty narratives. But usually the reason those work is because the ride is enjoyable. In this case, we are supposed to enjoy the coupling of Owen and Roberts and their “witty” dialog. I found these scenes the most grating and what really made me hate it. These two are supposed to be like a modern day Nick and Nora Charles or a Cary Grant and a Rosalind Russell. But really, they were more like a bickering married couple than sexy/witty leads. All I hear from these two is:


Roberts: Bitch bitch bitch

Owen: Whine whine whine

Roberts: Bitch bitch bitch

Owen: Whine whine whine


I did not care about these people at all, and that is crippling to your movie when you are supposed to be rooting for them to succeed. It also feels as if Owen is playing against type. I think it is a fair comparison to say Owen matches Cary Grant’s kind of rouge-ish charm. He is one of those people that can play the charming a**hole. Here, he is playing this kind of clutz who is always three steps behind everyone else. At no point do you feel he is the confident and suave ladies man who should be the compliment to Roberts independent and seductive counterpart. Really, Owen seems out of her league at times.


The main romance ends up being a chore to sit through, and unfortunately there isn’t much else to keep you interested. Wilkinson and Giamatti really don’t have anything to do in this movie. They each have about two scenes where they give a monologue before collecting a paycheck. And as I mentioned before, I found the mystery/intrigue storyline to be uninteresting and cheap in its reveals. At a little over two hours, my patience was running extremely thin. It is always sad to say when you can easily trim at least 20 minutes off and not lose anything.


Maybe ‘hate’ is too strong a word to describe my feelings for it. This movie was annoying. I can tell Gilroy was really trying and it seemed like there was a fun movie at the heart of it. I can also say there were brief glimpses where some of the chemistry would shine through. However those moments are too few over a long and convoluted mess of a plot. There is no need for you to seek this movie out. Skip it.



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