Friday, April 1, 2011
Writer: Tony Gilroy
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Julia Roberts, Clive Warren-Owen
two spies become corporate spies and they are tricksy and false, but to whom are they being tricksy and false? each other? the corporations? this is all over skin cream.
The script for Duplicity contains enough ideas to drive three movies, of which one or two might be good. This jumble was not. This movie was not worth its budget. With the exception of condescending subtitles, the production was very nice and modern and fancy, and I don't care.
I'm not entirely sure what goes into developing chemistry between actors. Part of it must be actual chemicals, and part is certainly writing; but how much of what's left is direction? That discussion is purely academic, though, since I can think of no scale on which the interaction between the leads even registers. Far too many scenes in this film are between Roberts and Warren-Owen and in far too few of those scenes (read: zero) does the viewer get the feeling that the person speaking is acting opposite a human rather than running lines in the car on the way to Liquor Depot.
I happened upon Ocean's Eleven the other day, and beheld a scene in which Julia Roberts shows a real connection with EACH of Andy Garcia and George Clooney, and just now I saw an episode of Family Ties which showcased two actors who actually appeared to be in tune with each other. Does this mean that Mr. Warren-Owen is to blame? Maybe a little bit, but there's more than enough of this shit to spread onto everyone in charge of this movie. The relationship between these characters is the least-feasible of the three movie ideas contained herein.
If the chemistry were the only problem, this movie might still be entertaining, but the central issue is the double-whammy of that lack of chemistry and its practical ubiquity as a backdrop for scenes. This movie is supposed to be about how these two people don't trust each other as they (at least ostensibly) work together as double- and triple-agents to steal something which will make them rich. But the film doesn't spend enough time showing us how this will all go about. We don't come to care about any of the people on their various spy teams and there's no sense of shared achievement or snickering schadenfreude as they accomplish their goals. I understand that some things need to be withheld until the a-ha moment, but the extent of that practice here makes it impossible to follow the movie. A windy mountain pass must have some "sharp curve ahead" signs. A better, Sneakers-esque study of the methods of the spying is the second-best of the three movie ideas.
The final failure of this move is how badly it squanders a fantastic supporting cast. Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson play rival heads of pharmaceutical companies. They obviously hate each other and they obviously want to make each other fail in spectacular ways. But we have zero investment in this, even though it's supposedly the reason why all the spying which the leads are working to manipulate exists. Leila says that this industry is boring, but it doesn't have to be. A better movie would have brought us into the minds of the characters to enough of an extent where we were invested in them regardless of backdrop. Fucking Extract did a better job of this. This part could have been a pretty good movie.
In closing, I did not like this movie.
first of all this was advertised as a spy movie. that is entirely misleading. somehow, it loses something when it's about lotion and not top secret government stuff. i don't really care who ends up with the lotion or cream formula. nobody is in mortal danger here. if this was not supposed to be the focus and the relationship, whatever it was, between clive and julia was what you were supposed to care about then FAIL too. moster pointed out their terrible chemistry and i have to agree. if this was supposed to be about the twists and turns of the plot, once again FAIL. with the bad chemistry and lack of intrigue the way in which the plot was presented it just came off as confusing. you, as the viewer, really kind of have to pay attention with the editing and flashbacks and out of sequence scenes. did i point out this is about cream!? who cares! dumb.