Duplicity is a movie from last year which has the inestimable advantage of two charismatic stars, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, playing the lead roles of Claire and Ray. They are a pair of corporate spies who fall for each other and are involved, over a period of years, in a complicated story-line. It’s a glossy film, with a lot of potential, yet I had very mixed feelings about it.
We see the pair first meeting five years earlier in Dubai, at a 4th of July party at the US consulate. Ray seduces Claire, but it turns out that she is a CIA agent who drugs him and makes off with classified documents. But the two meet again, and become embroiled in a plot to exploit a secret product under development at a company run by Tully (played very well, as usual, by that versatile actor Tom Wilkinson)
There are numerous twists and turns in the story-line, and there were some very good moments. However, I felt that writer-producer Tony Gilroy wasn’t entirely sure whether he was making a romantic comedy or a light thriller. As a result, Duplicity seems to me to fall between two stools. It’s not consistently funny, and the plot-line is so tangled that I ceased to care about what happened to the secret formula..
Am I judging it too harshly? Perhaps. I was strongly recommended to watch it by a friend and perhaps my expectations were too high as a result. Roberts and Owen are very good in combination, but I wanted to be bowled over by this film, and I wasn’t. A more coherent narrative would, I feel, have improved it considerably.