Julia's On Strike?

On July 4, 2003, a lavish party is thrown at the American consulate in Dubai. CLAIRE STENWICK (JULIA ROBERTS) enters, looking for a drink.

Wearing a flattering Pucci dress that would make her the centre of attention at any event, Claire is all legs, cleavage and voluminous chestnut hair.

RAY KOVAL (CLIVE OWEN) spots her immediately. He is tall, dark, lean, ruggedly handsome, skilled with flirtatious banter and possessed of an alluring air of mischief.

Claire is coolly amused at his prattle. She’s heard this several hundred times before. AT LEAST. But the night is young and so are they…

Claire ends up in Ray’s hotel room. She sleeps with him, drugs him, ransacks his suite – and then leaves.

Cut to a couple of richer than God industrialists of pervasive societal influence – otherwise known as RICHARD GORSIK (PAUL GIAMATTI) and HOWARD TULLY (TOM WILKINSON) – who happen to run into each other on an airport landing strip, with a variety of aides and employees in tow.

These men have little tolerance for each other at the best of times. Their belligerent eye rolling and overt goading escalates to fists raised and an all out brawl in front of disturbed witnesses.

And those are just the opening credits…

Then cut to New York in 2008. Out of the corner of his eye on some random weekday afternoon, Ray glances at Claire from a distance and immediately knows it’s her.

It was one night. But he’s never forgotten her. It genuinely meant something to him. Now that he’s found her after all this time, he’s not prepared to let her go. Plus he’d really like an explanation for exactly what transpired and why.

What infuriates him is that she’s pretending not to recognize him or remember the incident. At least he thinks that’s what she’s doing. When he finally decides to drop the nice guy routine and stick it to her, her megawatt smile disappears and she’s done.

But Ray is not finished with Claire just yet…

Those are all the intricate details that will be divulged. To give away more would spoil all the fun.

This is a rare motion picture that you don’t see much of any more: a witty glamorous seductive rapturously romantic concoction that is also fascinating, involving…and made for intelligent grown ups.

The acting is excellent by everyone involved. Director THOMAS McCARTHY (THE STATION AGENT, THE VISITOR) does an engaging, memorable turn as a double dealing colleague of Claire’s. He effectively hides behind his boyish charm so that no one will discover how elastic his principles really are.

Also outstanding is CARRIE PRESTON, who plays BARBARA BOFFERD – a woman Ray seduces in order to get information. She’s cute in a low key way and apparently hasn’t exactly been overwhelmed by male attention her entire life.

There’s a hilarious scene where Claire is forced into interrogating her. Not realizing that Claire and Ray are involved, Barbara goes on and on about how much she loved having sex with him. Claire is completely silent. But the look says it all. If someone gave her a nickel, Barbara’s neck would be broken.

One of the best surprises is that the intense enveloping chemistry between JULIA ROBERTS and CLIVE OWEN in CLOSER was not a fluke. They are not only perfectly suited to these roles but they are absolutely fabulous together. Ms. Roberts and Mr. Owen should team up for a new film every few years. Their pairing could easily become legendary.

TONY GILROY wrote and directed this film. His work always seems to be smart, literate and very adult – qualities that have practically disappeared from mainstream cinema all together.

There are time shifts involved in this script (as there are in brilliant motion pictures such as PULP FICTION, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD and OUT OF SIGHT) and the auteur’s brother JOHN GILROY makes the most of these with his crisply superb razor sharp editing. The costumes by ALBERT WOLSKY (Julia’s wardrobe in particular) are exquisitely sleek eye candy.

There’s a lot of realism that is displayed amidst the frivolity. Claire is ex CIA. Ray used to work for MI6. Now they’re both involved in corporate espionage. They’ve seen enough of the world to know that you can’t ever completely trust anyone else. They’re also aware that, given the right place and time, people are capable of just about anything.

In their business, trust appears to be a luxury that neither can afford. Yet they do genuinely love each other and want their relationship to work. The question is: How?

DUPLICITY is easily a quintessentially royal experience – especially when there are so many pretenders to the throne.

This is an exceptionally well made substantial film of great quality. It would be a sparkling effervescent gem at any time of the year.

But in March, it’s a rarity beyond measure.

4 Responses to “DUPLICITY ****”

  1. I’m kinda intrigued by this movie now.

    I’ve been seeing the promos and trailers all over, but I just sorta ignored it because I thought that it was a second rate Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

    But now I really want to watch it thanks to you.

  2. jizzka, I have no idea what your opinion would be concerning DUPLICITY.

    But if you like the site and you think my opinion on film is fairly reliable, I’d take a chance on it.

    I think DUPLICITY is a real delight from start to finish. It’s sharp, witty and very, very smart. JULIA and CLIVE have meltdown chemistry and you can’t take your eyes off of them.

    We don’t see a lot of movies like this any more. They made a lot of intelligent fare with sparkling leads in the 30s and 40s. The current HOLLYWOOD regime is clearly not holding up its end of the bargain.

    I’d also like to state for the record that I HATED MR. & MRS. SMITH.

    One of the reasons was that bloody ridiculous title. Um…New Century. HELLO…?

    The only good thing about M&MS was the absolutely scorching heat between ANGELINA JOLIE and BRAD PITT. They were amazing together and they both were drop dead gorgeous. But that by itself does not make an effective motion picture.

    There was all this lame action going on. It was very badly written and directed. You could understand the two of them falling in love on that picture. THAT was fairly evident. They seemed perfect for one another.

    But the rest of it was a joke.

    jizzka, I’d give DUPLICITY a try. If you like those old classic B&W romantic comedies, it’s a lot like that. Only with a jazzier modern day twist.

    Thank you for thinking of me.

    You are, as always, absolutely awesome…

  3. m., i liked this movie.

    not sure if i’d give it four stars. but i liked it and found it pretty surprising. i never saw the trailer for this film (which seemingly underwhelmed the blog crowd/kids).

    i saw this via, well…

    When i went to the Angelika there were two movies i was thinking i was gonna see.


    so i asked the kid behind the counter which one i should see and he said yep, the movie you’ve reviewed.

    i loved the layers and layers to this movie.


    i don’t know why the box office was a bit weak. (ah, could this be the trailer no one liked???)

    i really think what made this movie click (couldn’t likely be but across well in the two minute trailer anyway), this film was in simmer/give lots of info mode a lot. but i felt the pay offs were worth it.

    clive/julia chemistry…????

    i liked them in this movie but not for the hormonal/romance are they a couple or not? slant. nope, i liked them because all the things that happened/couldn’t have happend/didn’t happen because they were sort of couple. i loved the couple slant because of the info it gave the film/the situations that popped up via it.

    so i guess that counts as chemistry. i’m just narrowing things down.

    hey m., when i saw the film (some sunday almost 8 pm showing), there was a couple in the audience there that seemed under 25. how do they know who julia roberts is????

    just messin’ with ya, m. 😉

    (but some are blaming this for the film’s non big box office. hmm… )

    There’s a hilarious scene where Claire is forced into interrogating her. Not realizing that Claire and Ray are involved, Barbara goes on and on about how much she loved having sex with him.

    that scene was good because she didn’t even pretend to regret it or grovel not to get fired. ha ha…

    but m., i think i liked the ‘whose thong is this???’ scene better. ha ha ha…

    and in closing i think the one thing everyone should remember about duplicity is that clive owen’s character is good at remembering the people he’s f***ed.

    which i guess is cool since he didn’t even get to have sex in THE INTERNATIONAL.

    mental note in movie…

    clive owen wears a trench coat and he doesn’t even get to have sex ????


  4. Hey, you lil southern firecracker…

    Bout time you got your ass back here at CP. Right where you belong, buddy…

    glim, the fact that you liked DUPLICITY is somewhat surprising…and yet it’s not at all. You are exceptionally hard to pin down. (That’s what people keep telling me as well.) I never know when we’ll agree or not. But we do so rather frequently. More than I would’ve thought.

    We both backed IN BRUGES and MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS big time last year…and we both think that NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is the most overrated motion picture ever made. There are more instances where we line up. But those are the few off the top of my head.

    Well, glim. What can I say? JULIA ROBERTS was the biggest female star on the planet and the most popular feminine presence in movies from the early 90s until just a few years ago. I don’t think that there has EVER been a female actor that had that kind of box office clout for that span of time.

    I don’t pay THAT much attention to box office figures. But I do know that JULIA has more 100 million dollar grossers than any woman and just as many (if not more) than many of the successful male actors. I’m sure the ones that did the most business were romantic comedies. But people did (and do) see her in all sorts of genres. ERIN BROCKOVICH did well over 100 million dollars at the box office.

    However, things do change…

    JULIA has three kids now and I know she wants to spend more time with them and with her husband Danny Moder. She’s talked openly about only working in select projects that she thinks are truly special.

    Why not have a life? She has nothing left to prove and she’s richer than God. She will go down in film history as the gorgeous, gifted, OSCAR winning movie star she is. She’s done great work in a lot of excellent films. If she were to retire tomorrow, she’d leave a sizable legacy.

    Everyone knows who JULIA ROBERTS is. Hundreds of years from now – with her magnificent, undeniable presence – they’ll still be aware of her.

    But she technically became a movie star during a previous generation. I’m sure the teens and the under 25s (who apparently make up most of the moviegoing public, or so I’ve been told) know who she is. But do they – or will they – go to her films?

    I couldn’t tell you, glim.

    Part of it, of course, is that JULIA is stretching. DUPLICITY and CLOSER are challenging motion pictures. They have some intellectual bite. Sad to say (oh, is it ever…) but I don’t see a lot of flicks of that particular type making big bucks at this time. Most of the prestige OSCAR fare had pretty modest grosses this year. It doesn’t seem that the majority of the moviegoing public embraces serious film. When I see the stuff that’s #1 week by week, I just shudder. I’d never watch any of that dreck.

    Maybe a film like DUPLICITY is just too good for the market right now…? If that makes me an elitist, well…

    But JULIA has nothing to worry about, glim. She’s a bona fide icon and she will always be offered quality roles in daring or interesting movies. So she’s set regardless. Thank God.

    Holy hell. CARRIE PRESTON (who played BARBARA) just cracked me up in that scene.

    JULIA is so furious she can hardly contain herself. CARRIE’S bawling her eyes out and then JULIA wordlessly slides that box of tissues over to her, murder lurking in her deep amber eyes.

    So then CARRIE lets it all go…

    “Oh…the children, the children. And he made me feel so special. Hasn’t anyone ever made you feel special? I guess you have someone making you feel special all the time. But…it was WORTH IT!!! I mean, it was just INCREDIBLE!!!”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. HAH.

    God, that was hysterical. I thought JULIA was awesome in the thong scene. She really had CLIVE going. I mean…REALLY.

    But I love that scene with CARRIE. That was one of the most deliciously hysterical things I’ve seen on screen all year.


    I told you, glim. CLIVE was in love with NAOMI. She was married and they were both much too honourable. That’s why he never got laid.

    He was trying to save the world.

    Well, if I were unattached and CLIVE worshipped the ground that I walked on (as any sensible man would, of course) I’d certainly sleep with him. He’s unbelievably hot. Though he is married. *sigh* But something tells me that CLIVE has never lacked for female attention. Maybe some of his characters. But not him. I just have that feeling.

    and in closing I think the one thing everyone should remember about DUPLICITY is that CLIVE OWEN’S character is good at remembering the people he’s fucked.

    Oh, holy magnificent obsession, BATMAN. That’s even funnier.

    For all of you that don’t know, the reference to people that CLIVE has fucked is a running gag in the film. I don’t think it’s vulgar at all. It’s really hilarious. You’ll have to see the flick to comprehend it completely, as I’m not giving it away.

    But I do hope more people go. I’m going to see it again…VERY SOON. All I’m sayin.

    Well, I think people should be able to remember ALL of the people they’ve broken furniture with. If not, then we’re drifting into sleazeball territory. A little or a lot.

    I can remember all of my lovers. But I’ll have to go back to my 16th year. So it may take a while to think about that list fully and completely, let it run through my mind and….process it for the record.



    Always lovely to have you here, glimster. I have missed you, honey.

    Glad you’re back, my angel…

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