© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

Duplicity - Gemeinsame Geheimsache (Duplicity)
U.S.A./Germany 2009

Opening 30 Apr 2009

Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Writing credits: Tony Gilroy
Principal actors: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti, Dan Daily

Claire (Julia Roberts) works for the CIA and Ray (Clive Owen) for M16. They meet socially in Dubai. Flirtatious Ray thinks he is hot stuff when Claire agrees to a rendezvous in his hotel room. Little does he know, but it is only a plan to trick him into oblivion in order to steal important papers. They meet again a few years later under different circumstances. Both are working as spies for big businesses, specifically to acquire information about a new product. Heads of the rival companies are Howard Tully (Tim Wilkinson) and Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti). That’s actually all there is to it. The film works in flashbacks and re-runs and takes Claire and Ray to Rome, London, Miami, Cleveland and Zurich. But often they are in New York City with familiar scenes of Grand Central Station, Lord & Taylor, Fifth Avenue and Central Park, not to mention several high-rise office buildings. The story ends five years later in 2008 with the big bosses holding the upper hand and the couple wondering what happened.

It’s a little bit like Mr. and Mrs. Smith except more smooth, more suave. Roberts is becoming an even better actress as she matures; she will probably still be making films at an old age, the new Vanessa Redgrave perhaps. Owen is perfect and looks stunning in plain white shirts which seem transparent. How do they create that look – perhaps backlighting? It’s very effective. However, the surprise star is Giamatti, especially in his final scene when he presents the valuable new product to his eager stockholders. It’s very important to see the film in English. The spicy dialogue between Claire and Ray makes up 80% of the film’s impact; also the plot has the potential to be confusing. It is important to understand perfectly. The music is helpful, as are the unusual camera shots. (Becky Tan)

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