Cast: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Paul Giamatti, Tom Wilkinson
Director/Writer: Tony Gilroy
Production Company: Laura Bickford Productions
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Length: 125 minutes
Duplicity depicts a different kind of war then what History teachers are so fond of spoon feeding their pupils. The film examines the warfare between two large corporations. These companies are competing in a world market where bringing a new product to the public first is the ultimate goal. The CEOs of these companies will stop at nothing to earn their golden goose.
Richard Garsik (Paul Giamatti) and Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) are both CEOs of two rival corporations. Blinded by their hate for each other they will do anything to ruin the other, even rushing untested products to market and stealing formulas. Both CEOs assemble the best teams to rob the other companies’ secrets.
Ray Koval (Clive Owen) and Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) are both retired special agents now working in the private sector. Five years ago, Claire drugged Ray, slept with him, and then stole his secret documents from his hotel room while he was passed out in bed. To say that Ray holds a grudge for Claire’s ill treatment of him would be an understatement. To each other’s surprise these two lovebirds end up on the same job together as double corporate spies.
This is the second film in which Clive Owen and Julia Roberts have played a romantic couple. Their first film together was Closer in which their passionate chemistry was staggering. Their chemistry in Duplicity lacked that special spark. Clive was blameless in the lack of felt passion. He was his usual debonair self. Julia Roberts’ portrayal of Claire lacked her typical girl next-door sweetness. She came off as cold-hearted which ruined the believability of Ray’s obsession with her. Their relationship was disappointing.
The film should have included more scenes between Richard and Howard. Giamatti and Wilkinson are two amazing actors, but they were regulated to a few beginning and ending scenes. They would have added more humor, entertainment, and just fun.
Going into this film I was expecting a Mr. and Mrs. Smith type action packed dark romantic comedy. There was no action to be found. There were several instances where Ray seemed to be ready to physically attach someone, but it never happened. For retired professional spies there was not one gun, explosion, or punch thrown. This film is the ultimate war of ideas and lies where actions are spoken not done.
When watching this film, do not leave you’re brain at the door. The constant story line changes might leave some audience members lost. The film jumps back and forth during a time span of five years and also has repeated dialogue which can be confusing.
Duplicity is a dark romantic comedy about a unique type of war that many of us never hear about or experience. The actors hold their own, but are missing that special spark they have shown in past performances. The story is extremely complex with several twists and turns. Sadly, the film falls into the average category despite its pretentious nature.