Tuesday, April 28, 2009

4/27/09: Duplicity (2009)

Here's a movie whose trailer I'd seen repeatedly, and after the first time, I thought, "Well, no way am I seeing this." It appeared to be some sort of spy movie, a genre that I strongly dislike; moreover, it looked like the kind of film where characters are always double-crossing each other, which I also dislike because I can never figure out what's going on or who's double-crossing whom. Except now I know, because it turns out was double-crossed into seeing it.

True to my worst fears, this a confusing and complicated film, which never knows if it's a comedy, a spy thriller, a drama or some hybrid of those. In any case, through easily half the picture, I felt like I needed a cheat sheet to help me understand what was happening. Part of the problem is that the story is told in non-linear fashion, which can be an interesting and refreshing conceit in the right hands (Pulp Fiction), but this one had me scratching my head from beginning to end. It all has to do with two corporate spies, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, who have ostensibly teamed up to steal a revolutionary and top-secret medical formula. Is their romantic union genuine? Is one conning the other? Or are they both in it for themselves? You're never quite sure, and I ran out of patience about halfway through this two-hour-long tease.

To the film's credit, there are a couple of suspenseful scenes and at least a few well-written lines of dialogue. The performers are all capable (especially the underutilized Paul Giamatti), but I never truly cared about any of the characters, and subsequently the film left me wanting more. Having said that, I really liked the lively musical score and must make a note to pick up a copy of it. Rating: 2/5.

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