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Duplicity
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Reviews & Ratings for
Duplicity More at IMDbPro »

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20 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Too flash, too clever, too confusing - 62%

6/10
Author: Benjamin Cox from Hampshire, England
17 August 2009

The second movie I watched on honeymoon two weeks ago was this, what appeared to be a stylish and very cool spy film with lots of witty dialogue and two big name actors in the lead. And that's exactly what this is though it does have a number of flaws that aren't immediately obvious in the trailer. It's too flash for its own good, desperately trying to fool you into thinking Steven Soderbergh is in the director's chair and ultimately, it ends up tangled in its own web of deceit. Shame because Julia Roberts and Clive Owen deserve better than this.

"Duplicity" is a complex tale, focusing on two shady characters called Ray Koval (Owen) and Claire Stenwick (Roberts) who now work as corporate spies. Initially on opposite sides of a feud between industrial tycoon Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and bitter rival Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti), the pair decide to work together in order to steal industrial secrets for a tidy sum. At least, that's the plan. It's left up to the viewer to keep track of the story as it flashbacks, split-screens and twists at frequent intervals.

I can only guess that "Ocean's Eleven" is a favourite film of director Tony Gilroy because "Duplicity" tries so hard to imitate it with its globe-trotting storyline, subtle easy-listening soundtrack and visual gimmickry. Trouble is, the whole film ends up getting hopelessly muddled as the film jumps all over the place, meaning an already complicated story is pretty much lost forever. On the plus side, Roberts and Owen provide two extremely watchable lead characters and are ably supported by Wilkinson and the always good Giamatti. It's just such a shame that this film is so confusing. Not being neither a rom-com, thriller or straight comedy makes "Duplicity" as confusing to pigeonhole as it is to watch.

I wanted to like this because I genuinely thought it would be good. I love "Ocean's Eleven" (not bothered about the sequels, mind) and felt that this would be in the same vein. Sadly, "Duplicity" isn't coherent enough for you to follow and when the conclusion does arrive, it's unsatisfying, implausible and like the rest of the film, too clever for its own good. If anything, this film does two things. It reminds us why Owen wasn't quite good enough to be Bond and it also makes you want to watch "Ocean's Eleven" because it's a much better film than this. Ho-hum hokum but nothing more.

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25 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Game on

5/10
Author: David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
28 March 2009

Greetings again from the darkness. The very imaginative and quite funny opening credit sequence sets the stage for a fun frolic through the world of corporate espionage. The only two problems ... it's not that much fun and there is very little frolicking.

Writer/Director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) just tries to be too clever and cute for his own good. After landing two perfect leads and two of the best character actors of this generation, Gilroy offers up a tedious, bungled mess that is really never that clever and certainly gives the feeling of holding back these four fine actors.

The multi-frame look, non-linear time line, repeated dialogue and smirky exchanges between Clive and Julia are just some of the clichéd tricks used to make this seem more interesting and complicated than it really is.

Clive Owen shows again that he would have made a sterling James Bond (nothing against Daniel Craig, who is excellent). Instead of his usual dark, brooding roles, he seems to thrive when he can show a bit of emotion. Luckily for the audience, we are only subjected to one of Julia Roberts' patented cackles that causes every man to cringe. For her, she is quite reserved, but just can't pull off the smartest person in the room role. Sadly, the great Tom Wilkinson is pretty much wasted in his role as one of the dueling corporate giants. Paul Giamatti, on the other hand, has the best scene in the film as he delivers over-the-top arrogance in his stockholders speech.

Must also mention Tom McCarthy, not so much for his role (he is the guy handcuffed in the meeting room), but just because I have become such a fan of his directorial skills ... The Station Agent and The Visitor.

If you are after a dime store version of Michael Clayton or a mostly non-funny Cary Grant type film, then this is the film for you. To me, it just doesn't deliver the quips, twist or turns that it pretends to.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Frozen pizza

1/10
Author: Scott Baldwin (Meven_Stoffat) from Canada
6 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Actually, there's not much point in clicking the "spoiler" box. There's literally nothing to spoil.) About halfway into this film, Clive Owen's character delivers a 5 minute monologue about frozen pizza. At that point was the moment I couldn't take it anymore and tested myself to see how much longer I could last before turning this garbage off. I lasted about 10 minutes, went "screw this", and turned the damned movie off.

First off, this movie has zero plot. A man and a woman bump into each other in different locations, the woman acts as if they've never met, and then they get into bitch bitch bitch and moan moan moan. YAWN! That's basically the "plot", if you want to call it that. Aside from that, Paul Giamatti's in it, and a few other people we may/may not know of. I love Giamatti, but not even he can save this dreck from stinking out loud.

And I thought Halloween II was the worst movie of 09. Don't even go near this turgid pile of crap. Hell, don't even touch the blu-ray box on the shelf.

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25 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

A disappointment

3/10
Author: pilier1 from France
29 March 2009

I really wanted to like this film, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen two very good actors but no, I couldn't get to grips with the plot and characterisations or lack of either. I wasn't convinced Owen and Roberts were close despite the various romantic interludes in flashback. It seemed it was trying to be Ocean's 11 or 12. It failed. About twenty minutes into the movie the game plan was obvious, after that is was sitting it out to the end because I'd paid for it. The one saving grace was Giamatti and Wilkinson's performances they were brilliantly over the top. I hope they all turn up in a decent movie very soon.

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41 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

Felicity, that's what Duplicity brings, great story, great stars

9/10
Author: Amy Adler from Toledo, Ohio
25 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ray (Clive Owen) and Claire (Julia Roberts) are in the spy business. At a huge party in Dubai, Ray propositions Claire and he succeeds in getting her back to his hotel room. However, not realizing that Claire is an agent, Ray makes a huge mistake and ends up in a drugged-induced slumber while Claire takes some important documents from him. It won't happen again. Now, five years later, each of them is a corporate spy, on opposite sides, working for two top United States manufacturing companies, whose products run from soap to nuts. One is headed by the eccentric Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and the other is run by conniving Dick (Paul Giamatti). Now, word comes that Tully's company may have a huge new product rolling out very soon and Dick is livid. Why hasn't his spy team been able to sniff out the details and prevent his firm from taking a major hit? And, could it be that Ray and Claire are still a "couple", despite the fact that they now seemingly work to the other's detriment? Here is another winner from Tony Gilroy, who gave the world the powerful Michael Clayton. But, while his former film was very dark, this one is fun, fun, fun and games. As the two principal stars, Owen and Roberts are truly amazing, great-looking, quick-witted, and sneaky. Supporting them greatly, in much smaller roles, are Giamatti and especially Wilkinson, who provides the story's raison d'etre. In fact, when Wilkinson breaks into a huge, gleeful smile at the end, you can't help but share his nefarious joy. The plot, while complicated, is fairly easy to follow, the settings are terrific (Rome, London, New York), and the costuming quite nice. If there is any fault to be had, its probably with the direction and/or editing, for the film could have been "snappier". However, its camera work, complete with revolving rectangles of shots, is inspired and admirable. All in all, if you want to see great actors, saying clever lines in a topnotch film, then, do make time for this one. Felicity will reign after a showing of Duplicity, that's for sure.

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14 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Leaves you feeling cold and angry

2/10
Author: Dan Grant (dan.grant@bell.ca) from Toronto, Ontario
25 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Half way through the film, I began asking myself what the hell was going on. There were just one two many flashback scenes and when you finally figure the whole thing out, and then you have the ending hit you over the head with a sledgehammer, you realize that what you just saw was a very big wastes of time. You invest two hours of your life into these characters and you root for them. Then they get duped and they end up with nothing. What a terrible way to end an already below average film to begin with.

More problems ensue when you piece things together and you ask yourself how the corporation actually knew what was happening. It seems like they went to great lengths and endured many impossibilities just to throw two would be thieves off their brilliant discovery. I just didn't buy it.

Duplicity is a terrible film that asks you to invest in two characters for two hours and then asks you to leave the theater disappointed. There is no payoff in this film and in today's economic climate, seeing corporate America win another one, well, just tell me where to mail the check.

2/10

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

My first ever Review....

1/10
Author: jeevakp103 from India
25 December 2010

I never thought i will write my first review for such a disappointing movie. Slated as a con movie this movie cons its viewers in the end. For those who want to watch a Con Movie, this is my sincere request ...please DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME on this piece of nonsense.

You can imagine that after rating almost 300 movies for this site i am writing my first review just to avoid people from further wasting their time in high hopes and getting nothing. And Flashbacks which were employed to add spice to the movie were in fact a great torture too...

Moreover, the trepid and intransigent plot of the movie inundated with flashbacks invoked me to inveigh and to launch an invective but whatever i am writing here is just an iota of the degree how i felt about this movie

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

I could have lost the will to live!

2/10
Author: badajoz-1 from United Kingdom
3 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After about 25 minutes I said to my wife - 'I could lose the will to live watching this!' The film is that bad - it is only saved by some sharp and witty exchanges between the two leads. Welcome back, Ms Roberts, you look a little older but your figure is better for the kids!Unfortunately although you deliver (despite the hair) and Clive Owen does as well, what is the rest of the film doing, which consists of many flashbacks to fill in a plot the audience doesn't care about and tons of totally irrelevant and useless detail on industrial espionage? The director and writer, Tony Gilroy, after his successes with Bourne and 'Michael Clayton', has been let into the sweetie shop with no control, and he has frankly simply muffed the opportunity by trying to be too clever. He is obviously trying to recreate the glossy caper movies of the sixties and seventies, but this is no 'Charade.' Some scenes are over-extended - witness Paul Giamatti's speech to his stockholders - and others merely repeat what we have already seen. While instead of being a caper movie with edge, we have the really dramatic and emotional scene with Julia Roberts interviewing someone who has slept with the man she loves - this belongs to another film altogether if you want to keep the audience going along. It does not update the caper movie for the noughties! Ms Roberts and Mr Owen - your efforts deserved a lot better than this mismanaged, poorly constructed, rather poor movie!

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11 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Elegant, clever film too clever even for itself, in the end

6/10
Author: David T. (editor@midtownmessenger.com) from Asheville, NC
22 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If Tony Gilroy didn't get the corporate universe "Duplicity" dwells in from John Jakes' 1963 novella "The Sellers of the Dream," I'll eat my hat. (I just ordered the anthology it was published in, since, because the tattered copy given me when I was 13 or 14, along with a pile of others, had pages torn out, I never knew how it ended. Or even middled. That tale (compared also to "Network," for example), was a less dark, more playful satire of a world in which two huge consumer products companies have supplanted the U.S. and U.S.S.R. as the world's pre-eminent rivals, and they each operate, as if in a permanent Cold War of commerce, their own highly antagonistic espionage services—to a degree never before seen on film, till now!) The movie is engaging from the get-go, at least for those who like to get lost in a maze, or who, like me, are constantly trying to stay a step ahead of the plots twists and turns and guess what's going to happen, figure out what's really going on, and predict how it will all come out. (In doing so, I often get to praise myself: "I could write these things!") Here, I almost got some of it ... e.g., I thought they were never actually going to name the game-changing new product, since it seemed to me that was never really what the film was finally going to be about—wasn't going to be part of the narrative payoff. I wasn't quite right. Close, but no cigar. The chemistry between spies Clive Owen and Julia Roberts works, akin to their bleak but intense romance in "Closer," though in tone it's really much more like the constant footsie, potential insinuation of backstabbing and pervasive mistrust as displayed best previously by Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney in the Coen brothers' divorce satire, "Intolerable Cruelty." Ironic, since both movies were released as we here at Film-osophy Central were and are again going through that kind of high-stakes, anxiety-producing split-up. Be that as it may, the film increasingly trips over its own Byzantine cleverness. E.g., what, in the end, was Tully's motive? How indeed, did Ray (Owen) smuggle the product formula out—an especially compelling question because it seemed it was precisely Claire's (Roberts) seemingly gratuitous accusations that set him up for the search that would seem to have prevented it. So, if he outmaneuvered, we are owed the explanation of how (not to mention, why even have thrown her complicating behavior in there at all?) What, too, given the ending, were Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and Garsik (Paul Giamatti), the two CEOs, fighting about on the tarmac—why, and when? There's films that set up, then, in the end, frustrate your expectations and in doing so avoid clichés and the cheap, formula feel-good resolution ("The Wrestler"). There's films that end suddenly, abruptly cutting to black, so that you are forced to then wrestle with what just preceded—it hanging there, now confronting you with the need to digest it, it having been metaphorically rammed down your throat ("No Country for Old Men"). Those endings have legitimacy and do not retrospectively undermine the enjoyability of the preceding two hours. The ending of films like "Duplicity," by contrast—making little sense and leaving too many loose ends, AND seeming and unsalutary inconsistencies—makes you feel you've been duped into thitherto enjoying, and becoming intellectually engaged in, something that didn't ultimately deserve it.

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A real waste of time

2/10
Author: Blue Leader from Croatia
13 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

We went to see this to unwind and enjoy a Saturday night. Having seen Tony Gilroy's name as the writer/director, I thought we're in for a good time, judging by his previous movies (Bourne movies, Proof of Life, Armageddon, Michael Clayton, etc.). How wrong... this movie is incoherent, not funny at all, acting is terribly wooden (Clive Owen did much better role in "Children of Men" or "Shoot 'em up" or any other one he was in) - acting is like both of them are reading the lines aloud. Not to mention the plot of the movie - it is so hush-hush, that actually no one knows, and is interested what is actually is and what is all the fuss about. If you do not give the viewers at least something to think about, then you have not met the objective of this kind of movie. And to know whether the lead couple is actually romantically involved or not is also a question; the jumping in time-line is done awkwardly, jumping around without the regard for keeping the audience interested. The roles are not developed, the supporting staff is constantly jabbering about a big secret, which is ultimately revealed, but the way it was done leaves a sour taste. A lot is unclear: about the roles, about the plot, about the real intentions of lead couple, etc. And it is not gripping, it is not witty, it is not fun, it is not interesting - it is actually totally boring. Supporting characters are not developed properly, making it difficult to follow who is who... We managed to endure to the end, just to have a complete picture and to be able to have an opinion, but my sincere advice is to give this movie a wide berth and do something more productive instead - for example, sleep, or go out, or do anything else for that matter.

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