Info / Movie Review for Duplicity (2009)

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Duplicity (2009) [PG-13]
W.I.P. Scale™ Rating: $10.75

| Released on: 3/20/2009 | Running Time: 125 minutes |
| official web site | | preview trailer | |coverage of premiere |
| soundtrackJames Newton Howard - Duplicity (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) | | spoiler || 2cOrNot2c |

Directed by: Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton)
Written by: Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton)
Unsung Member of the Crew: Cableman – J. J. Sabat

Featured Cast: (where you might remember him/her from)
Clive Owen (The International) • Julia Roberts (Charlie Wilson's War) • Paul Giamatti (Fred Claus) • Tom Wilkinson (Valkyrie) • Ulrich Thomsen (The International) • Thomas McCarthy (Baby Mama) • Carrie Preston (Doubt) • Wayne Duvall (Pride and Glory) • Tom Stratford (Sex and the City)

Julia Roberts fans, she’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack and in a big way. More about that later, though. For starters, actually, Tony Gilroy, the writer / director who debuted the complex and engaging thriller, Michael Clayton takes a stab at thriller comedies with Duplicity, this time about rival intelligence agents and their pursuit of sufficient funds to afford retirment in the lap of luxury. Enter Claire Stenwick (Roberts) and Ray Koval (Clive Owen) formerly of the CIA and MI6 respectively. They meet on assignment in Dubai on the 4th of July. He sweet talks her and ends up naked, in bed, with his room ransacked, drugged for 18 hours, with his Egyptian missile defense codes missing. Of course he realizes Claire’s responsible, and all that’s before the opening credits. The film then takes place out of sequence with parts of Claire and Ray’s lives over the past few years interspersed between the weeks and days of their present job which involves Claire working as a mole for Richard Garsik (Paul Giamatti) as a security consultant in the company of his arch rival, Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson). As Claire builds her usefulness to Tully, she is funneling info back to her intermediate bosses, Duke Nonahan (Denis O’Hare) and Pam Frailes (Kathleen Chalfant). She gets the scoop of the century, one day, however, when she learns that Tully is planning to release the product of the century that will surely put Garsik out of business and this just days before he’s to face his shareholders at their annual meeting in San Diego. Again, via flashbacks, the relationship between Ran and Claire is built including the part where they discover they are in love but want a lifestyle that their present positions will not afford. Their only hope is going private and pulling the ultimate double cross. Eventually, the plan falls into their laps as if they can steal Tully’s product before he gets the chance to release it, they’ll make millions.

Julia Roberts fans, she’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack...
Everything about Duplicity is great fun right up until, that is, the ending. The flashbacks reveal a charming and funny relationship developing between Claire and Ray minus the fact that it seems the two may never actually trust each other. After all, she drugged him and stole those defense codes back in Dubai. Even so, there is hope for them. Clearly, they have chemistry even if each suspects it may be based solely on their mutual career skills and the thought that no one else could truly understand from where each is coming. The plot twists and turns are cunning and delightful urged on by the brilliant albeit subsidiary performances by Giamatti and Wilkinson. The ending, as mentioned, however, take the wind right out of the film’s sails and can be blamed on no one but Gilroy as the writer and director. It’s unimaginable why he would have chosen to end the film this way (can’t wait – check the spoiler), but it makes the film almost utterly worthless. That’s a harsh word, “worthless”, but honestly, you’ll be sitting there thinking, “what?” and “can I possibly get my money back?”. So, let this be a warning. Honestly, everything about the film is awesome, until the end. So, if you go to see it, be prepared. Actually, if you get up and walk out at the scene near the end where’s she at the airport by herself, you might feel better. You’ll at least leave the film with some hope and can envision your own ending which in now way could be worse than the one Tony Gilroy chose.

The chemistry between Roberts and Owen is timeless akin to that of Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund in Casablanca ... unfortunately, the ending leaves you holding the bag.
Of course, it’s entirely possible, given his genius and he is a genius, that he plans to redeem this whole mess with a sequel? If that doesn’t tell you something about this film, it’s hard to know what would. And it’s all so very disappointing because Julia Roberts is baaaaaaaaack. She’s plays one of her most delightfully funning and intriguing characters of her career. Clive Owen likewise does a stupendous job with Ray Koval. The character, for him, however isn’t too terribly different from a combination of his characters in The International and Shoot 'Em Up. Nonetheless, he’s still great and fun to watch. The chemistry between Roberts and Owen is timeless akin to that of Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund in Casablanca. Unfortunately, for all of the brilliance of the script that builds to an amazingly twisty climax, you feel in the end like you got left holding the bag. Seriously, leave when Claire’s in the airport in Zurich and invent your own ending. It’s the only way to salvage the experience and sort of get your money’s worth. As for the W.I.P. Scale rating, it’s $13.75 until the ending which knocks the film down at least a few bucks if not a little more.

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