Duplicity


Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Written by:Tony Gilroy
Starring: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti, Rick Worthy
Released: March 19, 2009
Grade: A-

When she won an Oscar last year for best supporting actress in Michael Clayton, Tilda Swinton told us all during her acceptance speech that "Tony Gilroy walks on water." She was referring to the film’s writer/director and yes, I agreed with her. I’m a fan of Gilroy because of Michael Clayton but also because of his scripts for the three Bourne movies.

Duplicity is Gilroy’s latest effort and it’s laced with style. With plenty of twists and turns, Gilroy has done his best to tease the audience and to keep them guessing. Not everything it as it seems. He’s also thrown in some snazzy, witty dialogue and it all adds up to a fast-paced two hours that will leave you smiling and thinking. It’s worth a second look just to see if you picked up on everything the first time.

Our two protagonists are Ray Koval (Owen) and Claire Stenwick (Roberts). He is a former MI-6 agent and she is a former CIA officer. Between them, they’ve come up with a plan to get filthy rich. They intend to use their backgrounds to get intelligence jobs at leading private companies. Once on the inside, they can sell trademarked secrets to competitors at a high price.

The focus of their attention becomes a top-secret product being developed a company called Burkett & Randall. Their CEO, Howard Tully (Wilkinson), has told his staff that they will soon be making a market announcement which will generate world wide attention. Claire is part of the counterintelligence team within Burkett & Randall and knows this is the opportunity that she’s been waiting for. All she has to do is find out what the product is.

Ray, on the other hand, has been working as part of undercover team within Equikrom, a fierce rival of Burkett & Randall. Its CEO, Richard Garsik (Giamatti), is using this crew to infiltrate Burkett & Randall so as to steal its ideas. When he gets word of this revolutionary product, he knows that his company must get there first or he’ll be ruined.

Duplicity is an entertaining ride. The story is told in fragments – it’s largely set in the present day but we occasionally slip back in time to learn the history of Ray and Clare. It’ll slowly help you put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Aside from the well-written screenplay, the film has been creatively put together. I liked the split screen camera work, the slow-mo opening credits, the bubbly film score from James Newton Howard and the one-on-ones between Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. It left me pondering that it can’t be easy dating a spy. These people are experts at deceiving others. How could you ever trust them? When you’ve got two spies dating each other, then it really gets interesting…

Thumbs up go to Duplicity and the man who once again proves he can walk on water, Tony Gilroy.