Duplicity * * *
Director: Tony Gilroy.
Screenplay: Tony Gilroy.
Starring: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Paul Giamatti, Tom Wilkinson, Denis O’Hare, Tom McCarthy, Wayne Duvall.
Better known for his screenwriting duties on the “Bourne” series, Tony Gilroy can certainly concoct a spy tale or two and here he uses his talents again. After cutting his Directorial teeth on the tense and gripping “Michael Clayton”, Gilroy crafts another corporate espionage yarn but to lesser effects this time round.
Owen and Roberts play two British and American agents respectively. They specialise in playing people and retrieving very important information for their greedy fat-cat employers. Being so good at what they do and also sharing a close and intimate relationship they decide to team up and make a big play that will keep them financially secure for the rest of their lives. The problem is…can they trust each other?
Gilroy goes for a more gentler and slightly humorous and playful approach this time. The film looks wonderful, with lavish international locations and all basked in sunshine and champagne, setting the tone for the grand caper. He doesn’t go for the dark, atmospheric and dangerous tone that he used to magnificent effect in “Michael Clayton” and unfortunately employs the services of Miss Roberts with her big, teethy grin and lack of range. These are Gilroy’s first mistakes. Owen carries himself well, all-be-it his usual fare but it’s a role that would previously be better suited to Steve McQueen, Cary Grant or by today’s standards, George Clooney – who you get the impression this may have been intended for. Also, the casting of Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson as rival corporate businessmen at each others throats is potential genius. I say “potential” because this is one the films strongest points but doesn’t utilise it and has these two great actors distant from each other for most of the film, despite a brilliant slow motion brawl between them at the beginning of the movie. Speaking of which, the beginning of the film is so strong that the rest pales in comparison. The actors put in fine performances but it all becomes a little convoluted without any real delivery of satisfaction.
Surely an espionage film that has been running rings around the characters and the audience should end with a bang? This sadly dragged me into their games, promised so much, yet delivered so little.