Duplicity, by writer/director Tony Gilroy, of the Jason Bourne trilogy and Michael Clayton fame, ups the standard heist plot and throws into the perfect con game playing out a mutual mistrust that exists on every level from the main star pairing of Clive Owen and Julia Roberts to the always-outstanding supporting cast members of Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti, where the only constant is
“smart is sexy”
Gilroy plays fast and loose with a series of flashbacks and slick cuts hip with a Soderberg vibe that introduce Owen and Roberts’ characters, professional liars that seemingly not only mistrust each other, but their employers as well. Or do they? The two engage in a game of cat-and-mouse to find the secrets of a frozen pizza recipe – or is that the cure for male pattern baldness? – but also play out as lovers trading quips between kisses.
Dialogue and story are equally crafted in a way to include the viewer into secrets shared among the parties as well as having key data excluded for the film’s big reveal. In the meantime, the banter, equally subtle and obvious, between the corporate spies keeps the characters interesting. Gilroy utilizes his knowledge of spy-thrillers and works it in, almost with a comical wink, to the banality of everyday living. As such, having Claire Stenwick bat her eyelashes in a board room wearing a St. John power suit is a compromisingly-believable fantasy more so than Jason Bourne driving a Mini Cooper backwards on the Bahnhofplatz in Zurich.
Fun, hip, and full of those falsehoods that make great films, Duplicity may not steal away the spy-grifter film genre, but should have enough lire in its bank account for a long-term Roman holiday legacy.