Duplicity (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/03/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 124 mins

Writer-director Tony Gilroy's follow-up to Michael Clayton is a beautifully shot, well written and impressively acted thriller that's both suspenseful and emotionally engaging.

What's it all about?
The tag-line for Duplicity says it all: He's ex-MI6. She's ex-CIA. Together, they're stealing a fortune. But who's playing who? There really isn't much more to it than that: Clive Owen plays MI6 agent Ray Koval, who falls for CIA agent Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) when she double-crosses him during a covert mission.

Months later, Ray and Claire meet again and decide to team up to pull off a multi-million dollar scam involving two rival multinational corporations. Ray and Claire leave their secret service jobs and put their plan into action, but can they ever really trust each other?

The Good
Owen's often accused of being too cold to really convince in emotional scenes, but that works brilliantly here, as a large part of the tension comes from whether or not you believe his character when he tells Claire he loves her. Roberts is equally good and has genuine chemistry with Owen (her co-star in Closer), while there's strong support from Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson as the rival heads of the targeted corporations and a terrific turn from Carrie Preston as an unwitting employee who falls for Ray's charms.

Gilroy's expertly structured script has a lot of fun with the conventions of the genre, with frequent flashbacks that repeatedly pull the rug out from under us, often completely changing the meaning of scenes we have just watched. The film is also well edited and beautifully shot, with crisp photography courtesy of award-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit (who collaborated with Gilroy on Michael Clayton).

The Great
Gilroy orchestrates some memorable scenes, such as an inspired credits sequence involving a slow-motion scrap on an airport runway between Giamatti and Wilkinson. There's also an excellent score by James Newton Howard, which contributes greatly to the suspense.

Worth seeing?
Duplicity is a superbly directed, cleverly written and smartly acted thriller that's both engaging and enjoyable. Highly recommended.
Duplicity London Premiere

Film Trailer

Duplicity (12A)
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Content updated: 19/04/2019 19:24

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