Duplicity is a sly and stylish romantic spy caper right out of the ‘60s. The offspring of Charade and Arabesque or possibly Gambit and Kaleidoscope, director Tony Gilroy’s follow up to Michael Clayton is different from that film in every way except quality.
Here Duplicity hooks into the cool swagger and jazzy swing of the original Ocean’s 11, while stars Clive (yes, he would have made a fantastic 007) Owen and Julia Roberts bring a retro hipness to their snappy dialogue delivery and tastefully smoldering relationship – Mr. & Mrs. Smith without the bullets, bombs, and tabloid fodder.
As a duo of retired international spies – she from the CIA and he from MI-6 – who crossed bed sheets years ago, they have decided to pair up and go rogue on the warring cosmetics companies for whom they now work.
There is con job on con job, twists and turns, back-stabbing betrayals, and double-agent double-crosses – so much so there are time you thing you’re watching David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner in Dutch. Yes, it is a bit hard to follow, with back flashes and redos to keep bringing you up to speed, but somehow it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a creative moment in the film that hasn’t been stolen from a dozen other caper films, it doesn’t matter when you walk out of the theatre and suddenly figure out if Julia Roberts had a cell phone with a camera, the film’s climax would have deflated – but, wait, she did have a cell phone with a camera – it doesn’t matter if you (as some of us did) see the BIG twist coming, and it doesn’t matter if you get a little lost, it’s all gleeful fun and Owen and Roberts match up nicely.
Duplicity can be nit-picked to death, but the bottom line is I was entertained for the full two hours – and that’s why I go to the movies.
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