Universal Pictures | Release Date: March 20, 2009
5.1
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Mixed or average reviews based on 114 Ratings
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Positive:
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31
Negative:
40
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6
SpangleJan 5, 2017
A stylish, yet flawed, romantic crime comedy, Duplicity is a mixed bag. With compelling twists and a great look at corporate espionage, this film from director Tony Gilroy is bogged down by a nonlinear narrative and a lackluster romance. As aA stylish, yet flawed, romantic crime comedy, Duplicity is a mixed bag. With compelling twists and a great look at corporate espionage, this film from director Tony Gilroy is bogged down by a nonlinear narrative and a lackluster romance. As a result, the plot becomes hard to follow when the film jumps from the past to the present to the past constantly and, towards the end, stops helping you figure out where each scene is taking place. Even worse, these flashbacks are always dry, humorless, and chemistry-less when they put together former MI6 agent Ray Koval (Clive Owen) and former CIA agent Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts). Lovers who work for competing companies, the film details the efforts of both sides to outwit the other and beat them in the marketplace. Of course, that is when the couple are not having sex in an exotic location.

For the positives, as a business major, I loved the corporate espionage. Okay, business is really, really boring. However, this film triggered why I am okay with working in this world. The anticipation of new products, studying the competition, and going to war, are all incredibly compelling to watch unfold. Of course, real life pales in comparison and is largely quite dull. Duplicity, however, manages to make a shareholder meeting completely compelling. With the cure for baldness on the way, who will be the first to the marketplace? Only time will find out, but there are moles and spies on both sides that make the battle between former business partners, portrayed by Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti, the highlight of the film. Honestly, Owen and Roberts should be cut out of this film in favor of the more compelling story. Two former business partners going to war with one another over a breakthrough with corporate espionage and a fractured relationship between them. For those that have seen this film, tell me that is not the more compelling tale? Unfortunately, strewn in between these great sections are a lot of romantic moments between spies that merely further complicate the film. Having them repeat lines, jumping back in time to just show them have sex, showing their distrust, and showing some of their planning, Duplicity struggles to bring life to its romantic moments. While its crime elements are top-notch and slick, the romance is lifeless. Owen and Roberts try, but putting two people that audiences find appealing together and hoping it will work is a bad idea. As a result, the romance here is largely unappealing and passionless. While some moments do add to the final reveal, the film could cut out all of the romance scenes, aside from the few where they plot their own espionage, and lose nothing. As for the comedy here, it largely fails and I had to keep reminding myself that it was supposed to be a comedy. With the romance and comedy elements failing, it leaves just the crime portion as being any good. As mentioned, this crime portion does succeed terrifically with a twisty and unpredictable sequence of events. Here, Wilkinson and Giamatti nail their limited roles and demand to be explored deeper. Clive Owen and Julia Roberts also do quite well in the film, even in the romance scenes. However, they both really soar when being calculating and cold spies. In particular, Owen is great using his charisma and slick nature to woo marks and complete tasks. In addition to the fun corporate espionage, watching this duo do their job is worth the watch and thoroughly entertaining.

Stylistically, the film is pretty compelling. It is hard to describe the technique Tony Gilroy uses when flashing back or jumping forward again. It is not a split screen, rather he takes a shot and begins to slowly shrink the frame. Other shots may appear and one will then grow. It is pretty unique and not too bad to look at. Honestly, I am hard pressed to think of a film off the top of my head with a similar technique and I am not sure what it would be called. That said, I just wish it did not signal my least favorite moments were about to happen again or else I would have really loved the technique.

A messy and flawed romantic crime comedy, Duplicity is not really funny or romantic. However, its crime and spy elements are so good, it allows me to look past its flaws to a degree. With great style and the assured hand of Gilroy, Duplicity may be a bit contrived and cliched, but it remains unpredictable through unforeseen twists that show just how dirty this corporate rivalry has become.
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6
beingryanjudeSep 3, 2014
Tony Gilroy is one of the most gifted under-the-radar directors of the naughties. Duplicity is both smart and intriguing. While it doesn't quite reach the peak of 2007's Michael Clayton, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are fab.
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6
CharlottePApr 13, 2011
Smart, fast-moving and reasonably entertaining commercial espionage movie which kicks off with an excellent slo-mo fight between Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson. The latter is always a pleasure to watch, unlike Julia Roberts, who is onlySmart, fast-moving and reasonably entertaining commercial espionage movie which kicks off with an excellent slo-mo fight between Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson. The latter is always a pleasure to watch, unlike Julia Roberts, who is only marginally sympathetic here as a bossy ex-CIA agent turned freelance spy. There's very little chemistry between her and Clive Owen and she looks, weirdly, more like a meerkat than a woman in some scenes. Clive Owen inhabits his role like a favourite shirt and his performance and that of most of the other players keeps things ticking along, which handily redeems a movie that might otherwise have been scuppered by Roberts' peculiarly humourless style. Expand
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6
FrankMSep 7, 2009
Notwithstanding a crisp, cool look and excellent instrumental soundtrack, this film never quite gets there. It teeters on the edge of becoming memorable, and then fades, as the chemistry between Roberts and Owen is only marginally palpable. Notwithstanding a crisp, cool look and excellent instrumental soundtrack, this film never quite gets there. It teeters on the edge of becoming memorable, and then fades, as the chemistry between Roberts and Owen is only marginally palpable. The plot works too hard at being clever; it's rare that one finds a mind-fooler feeling redundant. All in all, pleasant entertainment that leaves you grateful you didn't pay full price at the theater. Expand
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5
TonyB.Aug 29, 2009
Thanks to some good acting by the entire cast and excellent cinematography and production design, I wasn't bored for a minute. However, I stopped caring or wondering about how it would all turn out long before "Duplicity" ended, the Thanks to some good acting by the entire cast and excellent cinematography and production design, I wasn't bored for a minute. However, I stopped caring or wondering about how it would all turn out long before "Duplicity" ended, the reasons being a far too contrived plot filled with far too many twists and turns. As the camera pulled back for the final shot, there was a potential for yet another surprise. Fortunately, the film had to end at some point. another "surprise" trick I-- . Expand
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6
JayHAug 20, 2009
Julia Roberts and Clive Owen have great chemistry, but it is needlessly complex and has a few too many twists. Great score, very professionally made. It's suspenseful but also drags in a few spots and it is a bit overlong. The humor Julia Roberts and Clive Owen have great chemistry, but it is needlessly complex and has a few too many twists. Great score, very professionally made. It's suspenseful but also drags in a few spots and it is a bit overlong. The humor used is very welcome. Expand
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4
TonyH.May 8, 2009
If ever I've seen a movie that was so completely different than what it seemed in the previews - this was it. I never sensed any chemistry between Clive and Julia although I kept hoping it would show up.
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5
VinceM.Apr 24, 2009
Mediocre, confusing and disjointed, just didn't enjoy at all, Julia Roberts is on shaky ground if you ask me. She better step it up a bit or face the fate of Sharon Stone, a pariah.
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4
Andrewt.Apr 24, 2009
A shaggy dog story. A disappointment - tried to be too clever, but was not. Plot limited to who was fooling who, which wore you out after the first 20 minutes, if that.
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5
R.L.Apr 17, 2009
When I first heard that Clive Owen and Julia Roberts were going to make another movie together, I thought this would be one of the best movies to come out this year. I wasn't wrong, but I also wasn't quite right either. Duplicity When I first heard that Clive Owen and Julia Roberts were going to make another movie together, I thought this would be one of the best movies to come out this year. I wasn't wrong, but I also wasn't quite right either. Duplicity is a fun and sexy crime caper comedy that resonates with some of the better crime films, or as I like to call them "Get rich quick schemes" films, this movies has allot of good humor and acting but lacks in the thrill of the crime or even the shear enjoyment of it at all, albeit Paul Giamantti and Tom Wilkerson did make good rivals, and Julia and Clive weren't bad either. But as the films move on into it's main story it proceeds to swerve between the lines like a drunk guy driving a car and the story becomes distorted and hard to follow. On the bright side the film has several good points to it as well, it tells an interesting story with a good plot and adequate acting from the cast, I admire Tony Gilroy for trying his hand at directing again but this film just doesn't have it, and then yet it does. Duplicity is smart witty and charming fun, it's a good idea and plot that was lost in a flawed script that if it had been better the movie would have been much more easier to watch and understand. But all in all Duplicity is a fairly good crime caper that is enjoyable to watch and is worth your twelve bucks. Expand
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6
THApr 5, 2009
I'm no movie expert, I just call 'em as I see 'em. This one was a bit too star-focused for me. It was one of those where I felt like I was watching Julia Roberts play Julia Roberts and Clive Owen play Clive Owen. Don't I'm no movie expert, I just call 'em as I see 'em. This one was a bit too star-focused for me. It was one of those where I felt like I was watching Julia Roberts play Julia Roberts and Clive Owen play Clive Owen. Don't get me wrong, they acted very well, but I think the parts were a bit mis-cast. Especially Roberts. I didn't believe her. The story was solid, if you like corporate espinoage. There was a good old-fasioned twist that I guessed at immediately, then over the course of the movie was slowly convinced that I was wrong... only to find out I was right. Satisfying. But I like corporate espionage. This movie isn't for everyone. Two weeks after its release, there were 12 people in this San Diego theater on a Saturday night, and 4 of them walked out before the half-way point. They were young adults, and I would guess very bored. This is definitely not an action movie, and it's definitely no Ocean's 11. Pretty slow. Overall, this was an awkwardly cast star-driven flick, that took itself too seriously, but had enough quality and story-power to make it worth a rent for corporate espionage fans. Story: 7 Acting: 8 Presentation: 6 Length and Pacing: 4.5 Compared to its genre: 5 Compared to all movies: 5 Overall: 5.9/10 Expand
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6
KathySMar 29, 2009
Duplicity is highly entertaining and stylishly shot, but the plot twists are a bit too confusing. Still, it's a fun ride. Paul Giamatti is wonderful, as he always is. Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are always a joy to watch.
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5
RoyA.Mar 28, 2009
The plot was incredibly simple made seemingly complicated by inconsistency of time. It was like the people making the film forgot to shoot various parts of the film and just put them in randomly. The twist ending is till quite satisfying The plot was incredibly simple made seemingly complicated by inconsistency of time. It was like the people making the film forgot to shoot various parts of the film and just put them in randomly. The twist ending is till quite satisfying though. The film also got quite tedious during the middle and felt like it wasn't really going anywhere switching between super serious business scenes and romance scenes. Albeit the romance scenes were well-done. On a side note Clive Owen's performance was absolutely sublime. Expand
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5
BillC.Mar 26, 2009
Even a 5 is a little generous.If you see the previews , you've seen all there is that's worth seeing in this mess. Good acting is not enough, and this film proves it.
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5
zekebMar 22, 2009
Kind of stupid. Carrie Preston, as the seduced travel agent, is the best thing in it. Julia& Clive try, but the plot is painfully twisty, like a BAD COLONOSCOPY.
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6
kgmMar 22, 2009
If you are willing to believe that corporations actually have
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5
greenstreetMar 20, 2009
We fell asleep and so did a lot of people around us. What are the reviewers thinking? This is at best a 5ish kind of scoring movie ... and that's generous. Convoluted plot, no chemistry, no action - this movie's budget was likely We fell asleep and so did a lot of people around us. What are the reviewers thinking? This is at best a 5ish kind of scoring movie ... and that's generous. Convoluted plot, no chemistry, no action - this movie's budget was likely all spent on the two stars and nothing else. How it got a 100 from the NYTimes I will never know. Expand
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6
ZygAMar 20, 2009
Wow. All these effusive reviews make me sense that the newspapers are putting out in exchange for Uni's P&A dollars. Have you ever WITNESSED such an expensive campaign for a movie NOT made for fanboys??? Duplicity is okay. Just okay. Wow. All these effusive reviews make me sense that the newspapers are putting out in exchange for Uni's P&A dollars. Have you ever WITNESSED such an expensive campaign for a movie NOT made for fanboys??? Duplicity is okay. Just okay. Opaque shenanigans with less-than-clever "repartee" from two reassuringly familiar stars with by-the-book chemistry provide a few chuckles, semi-pleasurable confusion, and satisfying cinematic vistas. You could probably swap out the entire second act's script with almost any 70's industrial-complex thriller riddled with random lines from an 80's work-a-day romcom or two and not really notice the difference in the plot. The surreal constructions of non-linear sequences are animated in pseudo-Mamet fashion, given even less dimension within the painful constriction of Duplicity's PG-rated world. Julia Roberts' and Clive Owens' characters meet in postcard locations, debate each other's personal trust issues, fade out on the implied sexual act, then retreat to their assigned corners while we are intermittently entertained by stellar secondary characters-- many of whom we're not sure who THEY really are or who they work for. Even though we're supposed to like the central conniving couple, and root for THEIR greed over that of the corporate humpies', the ending is so justly anti-climactic that it perhaps teaches a poignant lesson after all. The inevitable success of this film will make most of us realize just how undercompensated WE are when it comes to Hollywood's distribution of grown-up fare. Expand
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