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ďDuplicityĒ (Chris)
Chris Pandolfi
Studio: Universal
Release Date:
Special Features:

Audio commentary


ďDuplicityĒ really could have been something were it not so convoluted. In a lot of ways, itís the perfect vehicle for Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, who play off each other so well in scenes that at times seem romantic while at other times seem devious. As government spies who (a) always have something to hide and (b) are falling in love, they have wonderful onscreen chemistry. ***

Whatís missing is an understandable story that fully supports their chemistry. The film is needlessly complex, bombarding the audience with a series of twists and turns that ultimately do more to undermine the credibility of the plot. This is problematic because the theme is that of trust, and there isnít a single trustworthy character. How can the filmmakers expect the audience to trust the story if the characters canít even be trusted? ***

Roberts and Owen play Claire and Ray, the former a CIA agent and the latter an M16. They meet in Dubai on July 4, 2003, where theyíre on assignment. After some witty small talk, they retreat to a hotel room and end up sleeping together. Ray awakens the next morning to discover that the secret plans he had been carrying have been stolen. I no longer remember what the plans were for, and frankly, I donít think it matters a great deal; this movie is more focused on pitting these characters against each other while at the same time drawing them closer together. ***

We gather this mostly from a series of flashbacks, all of which show them in that excruciating gray area between blooming love and deep-seeded suspicion. Itís interesting to see them playing off one another, trying to figure out whoís thinking what and why. ***

Through a series of very complicated circumstances, they become involved in a rivalry between two consumer product corporations. In one corner: Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson), the CEO of Burkett & Randle, a pharmaceutical company. Claire now works for them as a counter intelligence officer. In the other corner: Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti), the CEO of Equikrom, another pharmaceutical company. Ray has been hired by them as they company spy. ***

I could describe the plot that unfolds, but since the nature of this film is to deceive, itís a moot point. Let it suffice to say that just about nothing is as it appears to be, and everyone has a trick or two up their sleeve. The only thing I will say is that the relationship between Claire and Ray continues to develop, although they still have some major trust issues to work through. ***

To be sure, the performances are good all around. Roberts and Owen were believable in their roles, despite the twists and turns of the story. They run the gamut from charming and attractive to manipulative and cunning, and while it doesnít necessarily save the film from its overactive plot, it does make for much more interesting characters. ***

Special Features:

This DVD includes a feature-length commentary by writer/director Tony Gilroy and editor/co-producer John Gilroy. The film is presented in its original 2.40:1 widescreen format and features Dolby 5.1 Digital sound.

Final Words:

Wilkinson and Giamatti bring energy and wit to the film, even when we first see them; during the filmís opening title sequence, they get into a slow-motion brawl as they walk along a tarmac. Itís a funny moment, although Iím hard pressed to say that itís suggestive or symbolic of anything. Ultimately, ďDuplicityĒ is an intriguing film, but itís also too encumbered for me to recommend it.


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