Tuesday, August 25, 2009
DVD review: "Duplicity"
A clever, sexy caper, "Duplicity" marked Julia Roberts' big return to leading-lady status after several years of sporadic supporting roles. Audiences seemed to shrug with indifference, but might want to give it a second look now that it's out on video.
"Duplicity" again pairs Roberts with her "Closer" lover, Clive Owen, as a pair of spies who turn their espionage skills to making a killing in the private sector so they can retire in leisure. Their game is to triple-cross a pair of cosmetic companies, one led by Paul Giamatti and the other by Tom Wilkinson, and cash in on the secretive new product one of them has in the works.
Roberts works for one corporation, but secretly spies for the other where Owen is on the security team, and meanwhile they're maneuvering to have the formula for themselves. Much of the film is concerned with the various schemes and crises that emerge as they draw nearer to their goal.
But really the film is about their relationship, and whether two people who have spent most of their lives deceiving others can truly ever be in love, which at its core is an expression of trust. The scenes where the pair meet up in clandestine locations and verbally spar, trying to test each other's loyalty, are reason alone to justify a rental.
Extras are confined to a single item: A feature-length commentary track by writer/director Tony Gilroy ("Michael Clayton") and editor/producer (and brother) John Gilroy. The pair make for entertaining and informative guides, providing behind-the-scenes insights as well as casual banter.
Among other things, Gilroy reveals that he originally wrote the screenplay for Stephen Spielberg, with the proviso that if he passed on it, he'd let Gilroy direct. The siblings also note that the film's opening scene in Dubai was a half-hearted addition that they ended up liking so much, they put it before the title sequence that originally began the film.
Movie: 3 stars
Extras: 2.5 stars