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You Say Either…: Duplicity **

Duplicity is the kind of film you really wish you hadn’t spent money seeing. One does not arrive at this conclusion lightly. The realities of the modern age are, that movies come on cable so quickly and are available on DVD in just a few month’s time; nevermind the various ways there are to illegally watch movies, if you so desire. Movies ain’t cheap and in this economy one wants one’s money’s worth. Sadly, Duplicity is a waste of money that could otherwise be spent on groceries or the electric bill.There is nothing wrong with the film’s two leads, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. They’re no Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt but they aren’t chopped liver either. The prettier of the two turns out to be Owen, who has the benefit of being male, and therefore the usual rules of aging are flipped around to his advantage. In short, homeboy is drop dead gorgeous. By contrast, Roberts seems poised to be played by this pretty boy, which makes it hard to believe that she owns him as much as he owns her, a crucial plot element to this particular brand of thriller.Sadly, and despite well performed turns by Tom Wilkinson, Duplicity becomes, in the end, a grand waste of time. It is one of those films where you spend a couple of hours building up near-genuine affection for the characters only to have it all come to nothing. The film amounts to a clever dead end that might be funny for one or two people but most certainly isn’t the reason anyone is going to see a Julia Roberts/Clive Owen movie. Duplicity opens with a slow motion brawl between Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson. The rest of the movie, then, is a flashback that explains how things could have gotten so bad that one man physically assaults another at an airport. As a sociological study it’s kind of interesting. Writer/director Tony Gilroy plays around with the same ideas he tackled in Michael Clayton: Alpha males and the modern age. In this film, there an added twist, a kind of mockery on mankind’s plight, or rather, man’s plight; how is it we’ve come so far yet can’t find a cure for baldness in males? That part of the film is kind of funny. But most of the money has to do with Roberts and Owen as corporate spies who are in love with each other or else playing each other. They are trying to con the big guns in order to make a lot of money and then get out of town. It doesn’t quite turn out that way. If it had, Duplicity would have been a lot better.Roberts shows she can slip out of the little girl thing with ease and is funny in the film, so much so that it will be fun to watch her slip out of the leading lady thing all together and sink her teeth into the really interesting parts. The real story here, though, is Gilroy, and how well he would do after his Best Picture nomination with Michael Clayton. Duplicity is written tight as a drum and for that alone Gilroy must be admired. But one can admire him well enough on DVD.

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