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Duplicity (2009)

tomatometer

64

Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 178
Fresh: 114 | Rotten: 64

Duplicity is well-crafted, smart, and often funny, but it's mostly more cerebral than visceral and features far too many plot twists.

72

Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 46
Fresh: 33 | Rotten: 13

Duplicity is well-crafted, smart, and often funny, but it's mostly more cerebral than visceral and features far too many plot twists.

audience

37

liked it
Average Rating: 2.9/5
User Ratings: 294,526

My Rating

Movie Info

Closer co-stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen reunite for Oscar-nominated director Tony Gilroy's drama tracing the illicit love affair between two spies-turned-corporate operatives. The Cold War has thawed, and for CIA agents seeking to make an easy mint, the real money is in multinational corporations. CIA officer Claire Stenwick (Roberts) and Ray Koval (Owen) are both racing to secure the formula for a product that will bring untold wealth to the company that lands the patent first as the

PG-13,

Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Tony Gilroy

Aug 25, 2009

$40.6M

Universal Pictures

Watch It Now

Cast

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All Critics (179) | Top Critics (46) | Fresh (114) | Rotten (64) | DVD (16)

When it comes to spy thrillers, Tony Gilroy knows the game.

April 30, 2009 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With Duplicity [Gilroy is] developing a nice body of work.

March 23, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gilroy keeps it all moving at a steady, stylish pace.

March 23, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Duplicity is an enormously enjoyable hybrid, a romantic comedy set at the center of a caper movie.

March 23, 2009 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comment (1)
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a passably amusing brainteaser.

March 23, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For all the glam and swank, the film is essentially a bright, shiny, empty puzzle. The puzzlemaking by writer-director Tony Gilroy is clever but most frequently an end in itself.

March 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I'm sure if I saw it a second time, I'd find the little hints Gilroy plants throughout particularly delicious. But why bother? It didn't exactly grab me by the neck the first time.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin
Deadspin

Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are reunited for the first time since Closer, and they're a messed up couple again. But this time they're secret agents, which is cooler.

March 13, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

When it comes to sorting out where we stand with someone, we're all spies. Tony Gilroy realizes that romance done right involves invigorating risk, and "Duplicity" offers a bracing, beguiling shell game of behavior to complement the light shenanigans.

September 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Suite101.com
Suite101.com

It might be saying something that I preferred to see [Giamatti and Wilkinson] in action than the two actual leads of the film.

September 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Duplicity features the sort of story screenwriters dream of crafting in order to show off their aptitude.

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Times
Washington Times

The results are mistimed and misshapen, like Lubitsch after a vasectomy

August 25, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

The film's greatest pleasure is in the snappy dialogue Gilroy crafts for the capable duo of Roberts and Owen... [Blu-ray]

August 22, 2009 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

You gotta be flawless to tell a story out of sequence. This ain't no Memento. God, Julia is getting old.

August 21, 2009 Full Review Source: CNNRadio | Comments (6)
CNNRadio

It's not unfair to say that Duplicity is Michael Clayton on laughing gas. What's remarkable is that both movies pretty much work.

August 14, 2009 Full Review Source: UGO

A stylish, engaging and complex thriller.

August 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Moviedex
Moviedex

[Tony] Gilroy may have taken his time honing his voice as a filmmaker, but there's little doubt that he's got it down to a science at this point.

August 1, 2009 Full Review Source: HitFix
HitFix

Duplicity is like sitting in a two-hour lecture from a college professor who reads straight from the text and never makes eye contact. Do you know there is an audience here?

June 10, 2009 Full Review Source: BET.com
BET.com

This movie wasn't firing on all cylinders despite some of them being great cylinders.

May 31, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinerina

... Plays like a more sophisticated Ocean's Eleven, the extra heft coming from its corporate setting.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

Click for full review

May 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

'Duplicity' is a cleverly charming and sophisticated film about treacherous people.

May 1, 2009 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

It won't receive the critical ballyhoo of his previous film, but where Gilroy's 'Michael Clayton' lacked imagination and surprise, 'Duplicity' is a fun, witty romp.

May 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

It's good to see an espionage thriller that avoids the clichés of the genre.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Gilroy also throws in a reverse chronology taking place in posh foreign locations (and Cleveland!) so as to mark the film as his own and conceal any narrative weaknesses.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Audience Reviews for Duplicity

I read this recently: "Good writing takes the dull and makes it exciting; bad writing makes the exciting dull." It's hard to understand how this film fell so incredibly flat - as someone who's never been a Julia Roberts fan, it would be easy to start there, but really, she's no more or less boring than I usually find her.

I had heard terrible reviews, but this premise has so much potential: two spooks get involved in a borderline-impossible long-distance relationship and plan the Big Score Perfect Exit to be happy together. So what went wrong?

Simple: Too. Bloody. Busy. In Owen's best roles (Children of Men, Inside Man), he says less, not more - and when he speaks, he makes people listen. In this film, you see his pain at trying to deliver the lines as written. Maybe it's a cliche of the genre - and of course, why not try to challenge a cliche? - but spies don't talk this way, or even this much. Spy/Thriller/Mystery films, as everyone from Poe to Chandler to Hitchcock has shown, are best delivered in clipped sentences and long silences, and not the chick-flicky expository speeches we see here.

And when I say silences, I mean that the music in the background - if there is any - should be understated, or at the very least, anything but the distracting, look-at-how-intriguing-we're-being! soundtrack we get with this film, accompanied by the manic, 24-style multiple split screens. They fill the time just fine, but instead of building suspense, they - like most other bits of the film - merely delay resolution. A story that stalls this often - or worse, flashes back this often, to catch you up on the central relationship's backstory - doesn't inherently build intrigue, it just frustrates the audience.

The worst part is, the plot is pretty good - a bit cliche, fine, but if you do it right, I'll always forgive you. The spies, because they're spies, can't trust each fully in work or in love; there's a lot there. But when the plot hits its climax - a time-sensitive search through an office to make a copy of a secret document - we spend forever watching the team trying to find a map, to locate the copier. It was downright uncomfortable, and not in the style of The Office; I think Gilroy might have thought this had comedic potential, but it's the prime example of the frequent frustration this bloated film causes, topped only by the very last scene: as the final shot fades away, and the silence would make the point, THE CHARACTERS KEEP TALKING... and one of the lines is "It's just that bad, huh?", to which the other character cops, "Yup." My girlfriend - an actor, in passing, with improv training - asked me if I thought they might have asked to adlib that scene, and slipped in some revenge on the writer. (She would never do that, but I think Clive and Julia could get away with it if they wanted to.)

Suffice to say, it is: Just. That. Bad. The rom-com cliches undo the spy intrigue, and the spy story makes the rom-com-style exposition seem extraneous. Trying to hybridize these two genres is an ambitious experiment - something for everyone! Millions of dollars! - and all experiments are valuable for what we can learn from them... I mean, Casablanca was a pretty good spy/romance hybrid... but this film, on the other hand, only taught us a lot because of its colossal failure.
August 11, 2012
danperry17

Super Reviewer

This con thriller reunites Clive Owen and Julia Roberts after their great chemistry in "Closer" and they're immediately back on track. Both are playing former spies now working for multinational corporations. Whether they are allies or opponents, love or hate each other remains uncertain for the longest time. Fact is, their scenes together are a pleasure. The dialogs are fast and spot-on and even though the beginning of the film is a tad confusing about what exactly is going on, things get clearer and more exciting by the minute. The rest of the cast is great too, especially Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson. The opening sequence of them fighting in slow-motion is hilarious. With the flashbacks of Claire and Ray's meetings getting closer and closer to the actual time of the plot, we slowly see through the maze of bluffs, double-bluffs and cons and still the end hits you entirely surprising. A smart, highly entertaining and engaging film that requires its audience's attention but really pays off in the end.
March 12, 2012
ironclad1609

Super Reviewer

No one is more surprised than me that I actually enjoyed this one.
I guess I am not a real girl because I tend to not like Julia Roberts's movies at all (Pretty Woman? Ack! Notting Hill? Pass me a bucket). But this - this is actually a decent role for her! She plays a spy who gets involved with another spy - its kind of romantic in between the double crossing and bitching.
The movie itself is stylish and nicely filmed. I liked the split screen parts as it flashes back in time - those parts worked really well.
The plot itself was a little complicated and I am not entirely sure I "got" all the twists, but this kept me interested and I did not see the ending coming.
Worth a look, glad I saw it.
January 13, 2012
romy861

Super Reviewer

It's funny, half way through this film I became quite frustrated, I felt it was getting quite repetitive and you could tell the ending would have only one of two possible outcomes and I wasn't really fussed by either. This was true up until a point. I've never changed my mind so quickly and so drastically about an ending as I have for this film. Disappointment was followed very quickly by fulfilment, laughter and a sort of sense of relief. Tony Gilroy's directing style is impressive too, I don't think he totally pulled off the split-screen scenes particularly well but on the whole the rest of the film was pretty stylish. Certainly not a perfect film, not as good as Michael Clayton but the love/hate ending really made it worth it for me.
September 19, 2011
SirPant

Super Reviewer

    1. Claire Stenwick: If I told you I loved you, would it make any difference?
    2. Ray Koval: If you told me or if I believed you?
    – Submitted by Abigail F (3 months ago)
    1. Richard 'Dick' Garsik: Who writes with a fountain pen? How friggin' pretentious is that?
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Ray Koval: Then you seduce me, then you drug me and ransack my hotel room.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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