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Duplicity (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Writer-director Tony Gilroy was responsible for 2007’s really silly and incomprehensible “Michael Clayton.” Here, however, he doesn’t try to be serious. In this thriller that tries more for laughs than tension, he has created two pharmaceutical giants, Omnikron, headed by CEO Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti) and Burkett & Randle, headed by industry titan Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson), and they hate each other. Into this hateful mix come former MI6 agent Ray Koval (Clive Owen) and former CIA officer Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts). After a romantic fling in which Claire stings Ray, they meet again and decide to go into business for themselves. They target Omnikron and Burkett & Randle, but what they do and how they do it is so convoluted, one doesn’t really begin to put it all together until the denouement.

There are flashbacks galore and each begins with Ray trying to pick Claire up with the same line. But the real story is, what’s going on? What is the scam and who is scamming who?

Owen gives another sterling performance while pairing with former Pretty Woman Julia Roberts, who not only appears to have gained some weight, but the years that have passed since she teamed up with Richard Gere are becoming evident. I liked Tom Wilkinson’s role, because it’s a little understated. That can’t be said for Giamatti, who is so over the top it looks like he’s giving a performance left over from “Michael Clayton.” But maybe Gilroy just wanted to make it abundantly clear who the villain is here.

 Although fun, this is certainly not a film that will live in history, but it will remain in my mind mainly because of one terrific line. There have been many, many memorable lines from movies. Just five of the multitude that come flooding to memory are:

         One more remark like that and I'll wrap the piano around your neck.  George Raft to "Fingers" (Joseph Pevney) in Nocturne

         I said I liked it.  I didn't say I wanted to kiss it.  Gloria Grahame to Bogart in In a Lonely Place

         I like talking to a man who likes to talk. Sidney Greenstreet to Humphrey Bogart, The Maltese Falcon

         I'll admit I might have seen better days, but I'll still not be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut.  Bette Davis; All About Eve

         (W)hat she's got, you couldn't spell, and what you've got, you used to have...Elizabeth Sellars (Bogie’s wife); The Barefoot Contessa

 Well, there is one memorable line in this, one that measures up to those above. If you think you know what it is after seeing the movie, let me know.