Sunday, March 22, 2009

Duplicity (***)

Duplicity.  125 mins.  PG-13.  Written and Directed by Tony Gilroy.  Starring Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Tom Wilkinson, Tom McCarthy, Denis O'Hare, and Paul Giamatti.

Tony Gilroy's follow-up to Michael Clayton is one of the rare movies that actually gets better as it goes along.  For the first hour-and-a-half though, Duplicity keeps its audience at a distance and stays lukewarm and only moderately interesting.  After a bizarre slow-mo fight sequence between Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson's corporate honchos to kick things off, the movie settles into a complacent rhythm, alternating between present-day schemes and a set of repetitive, awkwardly inserted flashback sequences showing the burgeoning relationship between Julia Roberts and Clive Owen.  Both stars charm and give comfortable performances as ex-spies infiltrating two rival companies fighting over a secret pharmaceutical formula.  It's not until the end though, when they make a big play to steal the formula that Gilroy finally ratchets up the suspense.  The final twist in the end is surprising and satisfying, and you leave the theater thinking the movie better than it actually was.  Good endings can do that - too bad the rest of Duplicity wasn't up to par.



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