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Directed by Tony Gilroy.
Written by Tony Gilroy.
Starring Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  3/16/09


"Duplicity" reminds me of...Tony Gilroy's last flick, "Michael Clayton."  It is very well shot, very slick--sleek, even--with sharp-looking leads, some laughs, a good ending and a story that hops around a bit.  A leg up would be the soundtrack for "Duplicity"; very hip, very "Ocean's ____", very lounge-ish.  A strike against "Duplicity" would be the very, very chatty screenplay.  There's a lot of talking in this movie, most of it meant to throw you off while occasionally making the whole proceeding feel "important."

The net effect is a nice ride at the theater, this spring's romantic comedy version of "Taken."  I'm already forgetting that it happened (in part because I saw it for free), but even I have to admit--that Clive Owen is a sexy MF.

The executive summary version of the plot is that a former British spy (Owen) and a former CIA agent (Julia Roberts) team up to make millions by working on the inside of two Proctor & Gamble-like firms as competitive intelligence analysts.  Double-crosses ensue.  Over the course of two hours, we also get to learn how these two lovers came to be, and how they decided to work the angles to retire with the big payday.

As I mentioned above, the film will mainly be reviewed by others as being very, very slick.  The sets are slick, the outfits are slick, the hotel rooms are slick, Owen is slick, Roberts is slick, the music is slick.  For most people, it won't really matter that "Duplicity" can be boiled down to not-that-much, because the thing is so fucking slick.  Sure, I still don't think that Roberts is attractive, but as a straight man I have to give it to Owen--the dude looks good in a suit and he's in a suit for almost the entire film.  (Meg, of course, thinks the Owen dude has got it in spades.)  "Duplicity" has a few good laughs mixed in with talk of being crossed by other spies, and I liked the Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson performances as the two CEOs bent on one-upping each other at every turn.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the chemistry of our two leads, but at least it never feels fake when it's supposed to be genuine...there is some spark, and their give-and-take is generally good.  Meg thought it was good as well, but not the best...I would say that I never got the feeling that I could be sold on this twosome in real life, but everything was so...Damned...SLICK!!

Seriously, though, "Duplicity" is fine.  It's good, even.  I didn't think it was great, but it is entertaining, and as rom-com movies go, men will have to suffer through MUCH, much worse than this in '09.  (Sandra Bullock in "The Proposal", anyone??)

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 03/30/09