Tony Gilroy’s film Duplicity was released this week on Blu-ray / DVD and I could not let the occasion pass without saying something. It is one of my favorite movies of the year as evidenced by the review I posted on my previous web endeavor (IAgreeWithTheMovieDude.com). Because that review came in the waning days of the site and because my love for this movie cannot be overstated, I submit to you my full review of Duplicity:
Tony Gilroy wrote and directed this spy comedy about two former espionage experts attempting to pull off a major con job in the private sector. Gilroy’s name may sound familiar because his directorial debut, Michael Clayton, garnered rave reviews and more than a couple Oscar nominations. Clayton was easily one of my favorite films in 2007 and Duplicity is now one of my favorite films of 2009.
Gilroy once again focuses his story on the cutthroat world of business and corporate moguls. In this case, the always fantastic Paul Giamatti and Clayton veteran Tom Wilkinson run rival corporations in the home pharmaceutical industry (think Johnson & Johnson). Meanwhile, stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen play former spies (of the C.I.A. and MI6 respectively) with a complicated past who now find themselves reunited working counterintelligence for the companies.
Going too into depth summarizing the story would ruin the experience so I’ll leave it at that. Sufficed to say, Gilroy’s writing is as sharp as ever and the constantly twisting and turning story proves both smart and rewarding. Another part of the film’s success is its editing. Pieces of the present are intersected with moments from the past, blending together seamlessly like chapters in a novel. It’s not linear and that is to the film’s advantage. Gilroy tells us exactly what he wants us to know, when he wants us to know it. Trying to put the puzzle together keeps the film constantly engaging.
Owen gives a fantastic performance in a role that, just like the film itself, is smart, charming and always entertaining. Roberts is no slouch either but she does feel a tad more dispensable. She could have been replaced with someone a little younger, with a little more charisma and the movie may have been better served.
But as is, the film just works. When it is firing on all cylinders it is devilishly clever and thoroughly absorbing. By the end I found myself completely caught up in the action and on the edge of my seat waiting to see if my predictions were accurate. Now that’s a feeling every good thriller should evoke.
BOTTOM LINE: Pure enjoyment for the crime and/or spy movie buffs out there.