AWFJ Women On Film – “Duplicity” – Joanna Langfield reviews

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Wondering where those corporate earnings have been going to all these years? According to Tony Gilroy’s “Duplicity,” a whole lot of ‘em have been pumped into some pretty nifty espionage, casting a suspicious eye not just on the other guy, but on a few insiders, too. His duplicitous script brings us into the game, also: as the plot bounces from year to year, we, the audience could be just as played as are the players on the screen.

And what players they are: Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, in her first leading role in several years, play the spys who’re as sly as they are sexy. Meeting cute (it has to do with a deal gone haywire), the international veterans can’t deny their erotic attraction. Assuming that means they’re in love, off they plunge into a complicated set up that not only could pay off big time, if they can, considering their inherent suspicious natures, trust each other enough to see it through. The always wonderful Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson serve up dandy support as the business bigwigs whose hatred for one another just may keep their eyes off the real prize.

Gilroy, who wrote and directed, is no stranger to this genre: his Michael Clayton and scripts for the Bourne series offered up snappy, smart insights into the workings of complex business as well as some pretty neat spy stuff. And, while his male archtypes are impressively textured, his female characters are usually nicely drawn, too: remember Dolores Claiborne? So, it’s no surprise Gilroy has created for Roberts a role worth leaving the house to play. Her Claire is a clear headed professional, a woman with a plan and she’s intent on carrying it out. Things may not always go as planned, but Claire is no fool: at least she doesn’t think so. Her self confidence, and the fact that she looks damned good in a trench coat, makes this one woman anyone over the age of twelve can enjoy. Of course, Roberts makes the most of this opportunity. Even in her more recent supporting turns, like in Charlie Wilson’s War and Ocean’s Twelve, the formerly pretty woman has made, it seems, a conscious decision to grow into an interesting woman. Who, it should be noted, is still very pretty. Good for her: and good for the movies. With track records like this, who knows? Maybe we’ll see even more opportunities for actresses of “a certain age” to play the leads in big budget entertainments? Speaking of which, where’s Renee Russo been lately? Can’t somebody write something fun for her?

Ah, but I digress. This caper is really about Julia and Clive. Or is it? As the plot kept thickening, and the tides kept turning, and as I found myself becoming a little too aware that the story line might be too clever for its own good, I also found myself wondering: what would have this movie felt like had the two spys been played by, say Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey? Or even the former Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? The honest, easy affection that these real life couples brought to the screen could have made this smarty pants story a bit more fun. As it stands, this is an entertaining movie for adults, nothing that pierces the fourth wall of the screen and makes it truly memorable. But, what the heck: these days, a good entertaining movie for adults is a most welcome diversion.

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Joanna Langfield

Her voice is heard throughout the 50 states and around the world by more than one million listeners on her syndicated radio programs: Joanna Langfield’s People Report and Video and Movie Minute. She’s also seen and heard as a regular contributing commentator on CNN International, CNN, Fox News and CNBC. In print, her articles have been published in such high profile magazines as Video Review and McCall’s. Joanna Langfield is known for taking interviews to another level with probing looks at celebrities’ insights rather than just their latest projects. As a result, she’s secured a niche among the nation’s premier interviewers and movie critics. Joanna began her career on the production staff of a local Boston television station. She then focused her energies towards radio and produced talk shows at WMEX-AM in Boston. After moving to New York, she became executive producer at WMCA-AM for talk show personalities Barry Gray and Sally Jessy Raphael. She began hosting a one-minute movie review spot which, in turn, led to her top-rated weekend call in-show, The Joanna Langfield Show (1980-83). Joanna moved to WABC-AM to host The Joanna Langfield Show on Saturday nights from 9:00pm to midnight. It was the highest rated show in its time slot. From 1987-1989, Joanna hosted Today’s People on the ABC Radio network, which was fed daily to over 300 stations around the country. She also appeared on WABC-TV as a regular on-air contributor. In 1989, Joanna formed her radio production company, Joanna Langfield Entertainment Reports, to syndicate her radio reports. She is considered to be one of the top authoritative commentators on the entertainment industry. Read Lagfield's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "Joanna Langfield" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).