Roberts, Owen can’t make Duplicity work

Weak performances overshadow riveting concept, beautiful locales

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Julie Roberts and Clive Owen stare at each other with smiles on their faces in Duplicity

Gazette File Photo

FLASH THAT FAMOUS SMILE ALL YOU WANT ROBERTS, I’M NOT PAYING YOUR TAB. Academy Award winner Julie Roberts and Clive Owen attempt to rekindle their onscreen chemistry in Duplicity, where they star as former spies turned corporate informants.

Directed by: Tory Gilroy
Starring: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti

2 stars

It may not be as intense as The Bourne Identity series, but as a spy thriller, Duplicity does share some common traits like mystery and deceit. The latest from director Tory Gilroy leads audiences on a roundabout adventure only to discover an unexpected surprise in the end. It is a blend of comedic wit, romance and the complexity of espionage all in a two-hour edge-of-your-seat adventure.

Owen and Roberts play Ray Koval and Claire Stenwick, a couple of ex-spies who have taken on a job within the corporate world of pharmaceuticals. Burkett & Randle and Equikrom, two rival pharmaceutical companies, begin an “arms race” in hopes of discovering and patenting a lucrative product that will bring their company profit and praise.

Roberts and Owen’s characters are hired by Equikrom to work undercover at Burkett & Randle to discover their top-secret product. Little does anyone know Ray and Claire have teamed up to steal the pharmaceutical company’s latest innovation and sell it to a European company to patent, allowing them to reap the benefit of millions of dollars.

This is not the first time Owen and Roberts have played alongside one another. In 2004, they starred in Closer as Larry and Anna, an unhappily married couple.

The role of Claire Stenwick is a noticeably different role for Roberts, as she generally plays a bubbly character, putting to good use her notorious laugh " a laugh that is lacking in Duplicity. Also lacking is any onscreen chemistry between Owen and Roberts.

The movie is set in a multitude of different locations. Beginning in Dubai at the U.S. Consulate and moving to New York and the Bahamas, the result is a fairly visually appealing film. However, these beautiful sites do not make up for the poor acting.

The film’s concept is riveting, but a touch confusing. It appears Gilroy was attempting to make a truly complex film by combining an assortment of flashbacks and flash-forwards to make up the plot. The collection of short clips can cause the audience to get lost in the shuffle.

The concept of the film is unique, however the filming and acting is not up to par. Duplicity really tries to outwit, outsmart and outplay the audience, but will leave some a little lost.

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