Clive Owen is at the top of his game: virile, vulnerable, sexy, yearning, distrustful, clearly in love with fellow spy Julia Roberts. But like Trouble in Paradise or Prizzi's Honor, there is no honor among thieves.
Roberts is at an interesting career juncture. She's aging. At 41 she's gorgeous, skinny, with a full head of long red hair, still a magnetic movie star. But her cheeks are hollower. She's morphing into a mature woman who is more than a sex object: she holds her own with Owen, even dominates him, in a way that we are not used to seeing in movies (strong women are a staple on television). Her mature authority is slightly strident. Having taken five years off to raise her three kids, people are asking, is Roberts still a movie star? I object to Newsweek's suggestion that Roberts should be out playing the celebrity game.
I'd love to see Duplicity open huge just to prove that maintaining some distance, that elusive star mystery--which has worked for another 40ish mom, Jodie Foster, barring her misstep as a gun-toting vigilante in The Brave One-- is an effective strategy. Simply put, audiences will welcome Roberts in a role that they want to see her play. Whether this movie delivers that is another question.
It's tricky. A patently fake studio concoction which makes no pretense at portraying the real world, Duplicity probes not only ruthless business competition at any price (part of what got us into our current mess) but male/female power dynamics. It's a smart, entertaining movie that doesn't entirely satisfy.
originally posted on Variety.com