Visually stunning, mentally stimulating
From the actors to the flashy camera work, it’s hard to look away from DuplicityFrom the actors to the flashy camera work, it’s hard to look away from Duplicity
The first 10 minutes of Duplicity set a cool, mysterious and comedic tone for the film, with deliberate camera work, beautifully framed scenes, a good-looking cast and intriguing conflict, even if we don’t yet know what that conflict is about.
Two sets of characters lead the action. The first, and most prominent, is the two spies, Claire (Julia Roberts) and Ray (Clive Owen), who share a mysterious intimate past and elaborate plan to milk a large corporation out of a chunk of cash. The second pair, introduced in a brilliant, slow-motion airport scene, is the heads of two rival beauty-care companies, played by Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson.
To tell any more of the plot would be to give away too much in this corporate-espionage comedy-thriller. But that’s a good thing—if it weren’t as unpredictable, it wouldn’t be so satisfying to watch.
Perhaps the best part of this film is the way in which the story is told. Written and directed by Tony Gilroy (who also penned the Bourne movies and Michael Clayton), the bits and pieces that come together to form the story are told with good use of flashback scenes. First, you’re thrown into the action—then you get the backstory—then more action, and so on. But the film never insults the viewer’s intelligence, which, as a viewer, is nice.
In addition to the flashbacks, the camera work, too, is flashy—bird’s-eye views and short focus lend a smart feel to the movie. The cityscapes—from Rome to New York to Miami—are stunning. And it doesn’t hurt, either, that Roberts and Owen are both fun to look at. Even Giamatti, while not the most attractive man, performs acrobatics with his facial muscles, making it hard to look away.
In all, Duplicity is a thoroughly satisfying film, even at more than two hours long. It’s just Gilroy’s second directing job, after the equally stunning Michael Clayton—and this one sends him immediately to the top of my must-view list.