Julia Roberts has been choosing her roles carefully. After all, Hollywood’s most bankable actress has hardly been in the spotlight, her most recent movie being 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks.
Fans liked her better in 2004’s Closer, in which she played a deeply unhappy photographer alongside Clive Owen. Now, five years later, Roberts and Owen reunite in Duplicity, a fun caper that is a love story meets industrial espionage thriller.
Claire Stenwick (Roberts) and Ray Koval (Owen) are former agents armed with deadly cunning, street smarts and a profound affection for each other. Together, they infiltrate two health and beauty corporations and manipulate the business rivalry for monetary gain as everyone races to get their hands on a ground-breaking top secret innovation.
The movie cruises along on an enjoyable pace, relying on flashbacks to explain the love-hate relationship between Claire and Ray. But what makes this movie sparkle is the palpable chemistry between Roberts and Owen as they outwit and outsmart each other. The truth is, once you strip Duplicity of its corporate spy plot, what you are left with is astute observations of the dynamic between two people who love but do not trust each other, and the security measures they take to protect themselves.
The script is a joy to witness as it unfolds on screen and is fleshed out so perfectly by its cast. Paul Giamatti who plays the CEO of one of the two rival companies, deserves a special mention for his performance. Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are in tip top shape here but perhaps, credit should ultimately be given to director Tony Gilroy. Fresh off the well-received Michael Clayton, Gilroy proves himself as a talent to keep an eye out for. This is the same Tony who wrote the highly successful Bourne movies as well as the recent State of Play.
Duplicity is worth a watch, especially if you enjoy a good romance that favours witty repartee over the usual senseless and sappy lines. Julia Roberts has certainly picked the right role to mark her return and remind us why she is our favourite leading lady.