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Peter T Chattaway

Duplicity

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Roberts, Owen reteam for 'Duplicity'

Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are set to star in "Duplicity," a Universal Pictures drama that was written and will be directed by Tony Gilroy. Jennifer Fox is producing with Laura Bickford.

Roberts and Owen are re-teaming after pairing in the Mike Nichols-directed "Closer," in which they played a married couple that clashed over her infidelity.

"Duplicity" offers the chance for the same kind of sparks in a caper pic set in the world of big business. They play longtime lovers who happened to work as spies on opposite sides. They team up to stage an elaborate con to rip off corporations and steal a valuable product.

The film will begin production in March, and is Gilroy's second directing effort following the George Clooney-starrer "Michael Clayton." Gilroy previously wrote three "Bourne Identity" films for Universal. . . .

Variety, October 31

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This is not a review of the movie, but a mention of a few things about it that I admired.

A couple of things stood out in this film, and they weren't Clive and Julia, although both are fine. What I liked is Robert Elswit's cinematography -- the same guy shot Michael Clayton and There Will Be Blood in 2007 -- and, somewhat to my surprise, James Newton Howard's score, which had a hip, retro quality to it.

I'm not sure who should get credit for the split-screen technique, if that's an accurate categorization (it's more of a, I dunno, Brady Bunch-style of segmenting out images within the larger frame). Is that "cinematography," per se, or is that more of an editing decision? Works well, I thought.

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Christian wrote:

: This is not a review of the movie, but a mention of a few things about it that I admired.

The publicists I've dealt with would say that that crosses the line anyway (because you're still expressing an opinion about the film). But hey, if your publicists say otherwise... :)

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Wow. Hard to believe this hasn't generated discussion. No, wait. . . why bother? Never really worked for me (or the two people I was with). Certainly not as good as the reviews I'd seen. No real surprises, even in the final reveal of who's playing whom.

You know somebody is running an even bigger sting, it's just a matter of which side,

and you're not really that invested to care.

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I actually thought it was one of the more fun movies of the year. And it saddens me to see movies like this failing at the box office while Paul Blart: Mall Cop and its ilk rake in the big bucks.

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What did I tweet about this? Oh, okay, here it is: "DUPLICITY, B+: With this and MICHAEL CLAYTON, Tony Gilroy is becoming a better Soderbergh than Soderbergh is. Best opening credits ever." The second sentence is hyperbolized slightly, but the first sentence isn't. I'm not keen on the

switcheroo at the end

(probably because, having seen too many

Mamet

films, I was expecting

that very exact scenario

ever since we learned what the

McGuffin

was), but I'm trying hard to think of anything I didn't like up to that point in the film, and I'm coming up empty.

I feel almost the same way about Michael Clayton, actually: I really, really loved that film up to that

final conversation with Clooney and Swinton

, where I was like,

oh, he's faking it and is wired

, although that was saved by the

awesome final shot, just watching Clooney's face for two, three minutes as he leaves it all

.

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

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I think this film and State of Play revealed the limits of Gilroy's yackfest thrillers/romcoms/whatevers. I tipped negative on both, although I don't have an active dislike for the guy or his films. He's trying; I'll give him that. But neither of his two recent films hums the way Clayton did.

I resent being told that these movies appeal to "adults." Just because it's aimed at adults and the dialogue is fitfully amusing and/or sharp we're supposed to fall all over ouselves with praise? Please.

Again, I don't hate either film, but seeing their failure as a Sign That Films For Adults Don't Play is an overreach. I'm not shedding any tears. In fact, I find it laughable that the "quality film" crowd so easily falls into the same trap as the Christian subculture crowd, heralding movies that aren't all that great simply because not too many of that type of film get made these days -- implication being that if we don't support these films, even fewer will get made. And then won't life suck.

Edited by Christian

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In fact, I find it laughable that the "quality film" crowd so easily falls into the same trap as the Christian subculture crowd, heralding movies that aren't all that great simply because not too many of that type of film get made these days -- implication being that if we don't support these films, even fewer will get made.

That seems to me a disingenuous reading. The few statements about the film I've seen that might fall into that category ("we need more of this kind of movie") were made by smart people who seemingly very much enjoyed the film -- A.O. Scott, for example. Just because their opinion on the film differs from yours doesn't mean you have any reasonable reason to believe their opinions were highly influenced by the film's genre -- unless, of course, you have a magical microscope to peer into people's psyches.

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

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Duplicity and State of Play are not the same genre, but both have received their fair share of glowing reviews and post release hand-wringing over audience apathy toward them. In this case, I think the audience is smarter than the critics. I don't often think that, but in this case, I do.

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I don't think you need a superb specimen of the adult thriller (or whatever) in order to lament the death of the genre. Just a really decent specimen -- the sort that would have been taken for granted in the '60s -- will do. As Mike D'Angelo said, "if the average Hollywood film were even half as consistently smart and witty and assured as Duplicity, I would never leave the Times Square multiplexes. . . . Even more than in Clayton, Gilroy just nails old-Hollywood effervescence, reminding you what a big star vehicle with a crafty Byzantine plot is supposed to look like. He's at once pioneer and throwback, and reason for hope."

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In fact, I find it laughable that the "quality film" crowd so easily falls into the same trap as the Christian subculture crowd, heralding movies that aren't all that great simply because not too many of that type of film get made these days -- implication being that if we don't support these films, even fewer will get made. And then won't life suck.
Well, this was really the only film that Maryellen and I could agree upon, a few weeks back, when we had to go to our first movie outing since Indy 4. (Life with children = wonderful-but-challenging). So, if Duplicity hadn't played in our area, we would've been stuck with the excessive raunchiness of "I Love You Man" or worse. Or yet another raincheck.

That said, the problem with the movie is that you can't be lighthearted AND over the two-hour limit. And you can't express interest of a life-and-death scenario when life-and-death is not on the line. The movie-star ambviance, witty banter and the clever switcheroos stem from the story, not the other way around. That is why The Sting is so immensely watchable, and this is worth a rental.

ETA: Okay, okay, The Sting is also over the two hour limit. The exception that proves the rule.

Edited by Nick Alexander

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For the record, I think Duplicity is a better film than State of Play, but both films were too cluttered. I like Nick's take on Duplicity, but for me, the problem was all the time-shifting, which, I thought, worked against the development of the romance. Because the film is ulitmately, I would argue, about the chance of a future together for the two main characters more than it is an indictment of personal or corporate greed, or even a caper, the movie suffers. As for D'Angelo's comment, I just don't see it. The only thing Duplicity reminded me of was how superior those "old-Hollywood" movies are to the current crop.

Edited by Christian

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Crow   

I found the film quite enjoyable. Sure, it's fluff. I mean, the object of the spy goings on was

a cure for baldness

instead of the usual geopolitical so-and-so. So it's fitting that the film has a pretty breezy tone throughout.

What makes the film work was the actors. Not surprisingly, Clive Owen was very cool. Much more surprisingly, I liked Julia Roberts as well. The two of them had nice chemistry. And Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti were a hoot to watch as well.

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M. Leary   

Count me in on the Gilroy fan club here. This film could easily have been made in the mid-60s at one of the big French studios without the slightest alteration in dialogue or cinematography. I guess they couldn't have pulled off the split screens back then, but Melville would have just used fades to black instead. The Soderbergh comparison above is really apt, as it is obviously made by someone who loves cinema and genre, but is able to make a film that doesn't end up being all about these interests (Tarantino).

I could see where the story was going, but I didn't mind. I am not a Clive Owen fan, and found the big reveal to be a bit wooden, but I didn't mind that. I loved the recitation of their little romantic liturgy at appropriate points throughout. For some reason this one just worked. Can someone tell me why?

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This is the title I'm most surprised to be including in my '09 favorites list. I really, really didn't expect to like it. I loved it.

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BethR   

This is the title I'm most surprised to be including in my '09 favorites list. I really, really didn't expect to like it. I loved it.

You surprise me!

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I found the film quite enjoyable. Sure, it's fluff. I mean, the object of the spy goings on was <span style='color:#000000;background:#000000'>a cure for baldness</span> instead of the usual geopolitical so-and-so. So it's fitting that the film has a pretty breezy tone throughout.

What makes the film work was the actors. Not surprisingly, Clive Owen was very cool. Much more surprisingly, I liked Julia Roberts as well. The two of them had nice chemistry. And Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti were a hoot to watch as well.

Just saw this; was pretty ho-hum about it. Of course, working for a big corp like those in "Duplicity" made a few things stand out as really fun, or really lame. Owen's pizza company gig was dead on--the concept complaints, the stealing. The Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti hatred--lame. Took me right out of the story. But not as much as Owen--just didn't work for me. Kept seeing Clooney in that role--and much, much more zany energy.

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Persona   

I saw State of Play twice a few weeks ago and created a thread Here. Gilroy was the writer there and the director here.

I liked both films pretty much equally, but I think State of Play is a bit more satisfying in the end. And I definitely favor the flirtatious relationship of Crowe and McAdams over the scheming, saucy, distrusting relationship here.

I found the film quite enjoyable. Sure, it's fluff. I mean, the object of the spy goings on was ......... So it's fitting that the film has a pretty breezy tone throughout.

This is pretty much my take on the film. Good "fluff." I even liked Julia Rogers, erm, Roberts, as well. :)

For some reason this one just worked. Can someone tell me why?

I think it's because every once in a while you need a nice lighthearted non-thinker that has the capacity to sweep you up a bit in its mazed plot, a plot that doesn't really matter as much as the romcom lighthearted thriller-ness. Honestly, not every detail makes sense here. But do you care? No. No one cares. This is not a movie to care about the details on. It's one to take you along in its breeze -- it's a breeze of something seemingly serious, but no more serious than the Oceans films. It's fun, unimportant, lighthearted movie making. Every once in a while you need something like that.

From the DVD commentary, my word. Clooney is everywhere these days. Gilroy claims that it was Clooney's idea to get the film made with Owens in the lead. Roberts was pregnant and it took her a while to sign on. You gotta think Clooney had something to do with that as well.

Edited by Persona

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with Owens in the lead

Stef, Stef, Stef ... (the additional "s" is understandable, but I couldn't resist...)

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Persona   

I need to be paid in order to remember all these names, Kristen.

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