VOD film review: Duplicity
Ivan Radford | On 05, Aug 2015
Director: Tony Gilroy
Cast: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti
Where to watch Duplicity online in the UK: Amazon Prime
Clive Owen and Julia Roberts pulling a long con? Most people might think of Ocean’s Eleven, but Tony Gilroy’s romantic caper is far closer to Charade – “caper” being the key word here. Darting in and out of hotel rooms, boardrooms, trains and planes, our two sparky stars caper all over the place. Sometimes, they caper so much their clothes fall off.
Ray Koval (Owen) and Claire Stenwick (Roberts) are spooks with a steamy past. Stylish and sneaky in equally measure, they put their suspicious minds together to scam two rival cosmetics companies, run by Howard Tully (Wilkinson) and Richard Garsik (Giamatti). How? Well, it’s quite simple. Or, to be exact, incredibly convoluted. Amidst all the twists, turns, double crosses and triple crosses, it comes down to one thing: lotion. Or is it cream?
The point is that Tully and Garsik hate each other. Instead of exchanging price drops like normal people, they swap blows outside their private jets (a glorious slow-motion smackdown that sees Benjamin Franklin take out John Adams on tarmac). Intent on stealing the other’s secret formulae, each have hired a crack counter-intelligence team. Cue Clive and Julia, all clued up on how to steal 40 million.
The overly complex thriller zips along at a snappy pace, swinging from one country to another with old-school sass. Playing out to James Newton Howard’s jazzy vibes, it smugly revels in its quick-smart dialogue and charming lead couple.
Some might argue that Clooney was clearly meant for Clive’s part, but that doesn’t do justice to Owen’s own brand of charisma. Roberts returns to the screen with a part that offers both glamour and deceit – she manages both with ease. Together, the odd couple trade one-liners gleefully; in their hands, even the same conversation three times over manages to entertain.
Gilroy proved his penmanship with The Bourne Ultimatum and Michael Clayton. Here, he splashes the ink about with a playful ear, matching it with a frisky eye and a soft spot for split-screens. The result? An electric climax to a crafty bit of trickery. When he does pull the rug out, you won’t be complaining about carpet burn.