Women On Film – “Duplicity” – Susan Granger reviews

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Honore De Balzac said, “A flow of words is a sure sign of duplicity” – which may explain why CIA officer Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) and MI6 agent Ray Koval (Clive Owen) are never at a loss when forced to explain their unpredictably bizarre behavior in this sexy, sophisticated spy caper.

In the opening scene, for example, at a gala Fourth of July party in 2003 at Dubai’s US Consulate, Ray makes a charming play for Claire. She seductively parries with clever quips – yet, before long, they’ve tumbled into bed. Claire awakens first and deftly steals Ray’s top-secret documents. She’s a professional, he’s her target and exit strategies are her specialty. A few years later, the tables are turned when Claire ostensibly goes to work as a security expert for Burkett-Randel’s titan-of-industry Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and Ray is covertly hired as her ‘handler.’ At the same time, rival Equikrom’s CEO Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti) is set to pull off a consumer coup of global proportions, a scheme which also involves Claire and Ray.

What complicates matters is chemistry: Claire and Ray are irresistibly attracted to each another but, because trust is never part of the equation, they constantly “game” each other with playful misdirection since they’re competitive spirits, consummate deceivers and lovers of larceny.

Writer/director Tony Gilroy’s (“Michael Clayton”) topical timing is perfect since – on one level – this romantic thriller is sheer escapist entertainment while – on another – it’s an observant commentary on contemporary corporate espionage. Problem is: with its constantly shifting timelines, the carefully calculated plot is extremely devious and convoluted. While it eventually makes sense, the ultimate con is difficult, even frustrating to follow as it evolves on the screen.

As previously evidenced in “Closer,” Roberts and Owen work superbly together; they’re friends and their easy camaraderie is obvious. Humor abounds, particularly when Claire’s questioning a travel agent whom Ray seduced and when Ray’s posing as a bumbling American who enjoys appletinis. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Duplicity” is a slick 7 – it’s sneaky, snarky fun, a devilish double-cross.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.