Tuesday, March 24, 2009


In a world of mindless entertainment, sometimes one wonders if there is still a place for a brainy romantic spy yarn, and apparently, thank goodness, the answer is still yes. Such a movie is Julie Robert's return as a leading lady to the big screen, having turned the big 4-0 a while back. Yes she has played cameo roles or large cast roles in Charlie Wilson's War, and the Ocean's 11 etc. sagas, but in this movie, with the help of Clive Owen, she returns to form, on center stage, as a leading lady. She looks a bit gaunt and a bit more curvy than in the past, but its still the same sassy Julia with the angular face and the gigantic smile and laugh.

And Clive Owen is still the sophisticated handsome Brit, who provides the perfect foil for Julia's character. The screen writer involved was also involved with Michael Clayton and the Bourne sagas, and so one would expect some interesting plot twists and turns, and one is not disappointed. Here is a movie one actually has to pay attention in, to keep up. It will remind you some of the Oceans movies in terms of cinematography, music, and pizazz, and not of spy thrillers that involve lots of action. You do however get to jet set around the world to various venues previously visited by James Bond. In the post-modern sense this is not an 'action' flick, for in this movie the action is mostly in the heat generated between the two lead characters. But clearly there is more here than meets the eye, as the flashbacks increasingly reveal as the movie progresses. Here is the studio's own summary of the plot....

"Synopsis: Oscar® winner Julia Roberts and Clive Owen reunite for Duplicity, from writer/director Tony Gilroy (seven-time Oscar®-nominated Michael Clayton). In the film, they star as spies-turned-corporate... Oscar® winner Julia Roberts and Clive Owen reunite for Duplicity, from writer/director Tony Gilroy (seven-time Oscar®-nominated Michael Clayton). In the film, they star as spies-turned-corporate operatives in the midst of a clandestine love affair. When they find themselves embroiled in a high-stakes espionage game, they discover the toughest part of the job is deciding how much to trust the one you love.

CIA officer Claire Stenwick (Roberts) and MI6 agent Ray Koval (Owen) have left the world of government intelligence to cash in on the highly profitable cold war raging between two rival multinational corporations. Their mission? Secure the formula for a product that will bring a fortune to the company that patents it first.

For their employers--industry titan Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and buccaneer CEO Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti)-- nothing is out of bounds. But as the stakes rise, the mystery deepens and the tactics get dirtier, the trickiest secret for Claire and Ray is their growing attraction. And as they each try to stay one double-cross ahead, two career loners find their schemes endangered by the only thing they can't cheat their way out of: love. --© Universal Pictures"

This is a 2 hours + movie I can happily recommend to adults and teens, as it eschews violence altogether, and is none too revealing in the amorous scenes. And in fact it is something of a morality play. Sometimes the player gets played, and in a world of duplicity and corporate espionage, who exactly can you trust?

What this movie very nicely demonstrates is that once a person starts telling large quantities of lies, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain consistent to the web one is weaving. It's just the opposite with truth. Truth telling allows you to sleep well at night, know who you are, and who you can trust and not have to be constantly looking over your shoulder or reviewing your previous words to see if you are being consistent.

This movie is a classic revelation of the fact that God set the world up to be run on the basis of truth, and when an individual, or a company, or a country doesn't live that way, it not merely loses its way, it loses its identity. As Claire and Ray find out to their cost, you cannot unconditionally love someone you cannot fundamentally trust, for love and its vulnerabilities are based on trusting one another.

There is a very revealing scene between the two stars near the end of the movie, where they say that they long to start over from scratch and live a life that is true, truthful, honest, open, and loving. What it reveals is that love and truth and trust and faith always were intertwined, and were meant to be so. Alas, this leaves the duplicitous in a world without love and in a world of hurt. As Jesus put it "you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free..." free to love.

If you go to see this movie, and I would certainly commend it, see if you can figure out the major hole in the plot which should have been fixed. But since this movie is all about secrets, I will say no more.... nod, nod, wink, wink.


Steve Williams said...

Loved the movie - good fun - good twists.

The only "hole" I saw was the whole scene in the Bahamas. It made no sense that Roberts' character and her cohort from the soap company would know they needed to set up the team from Echelon - how and why would they know they were there?

Also, I had to wonder what happened to the pizza in the bowling alley??? Maybe I was hungry at the time.

Dan said...

Paul Giamatti was hilarious, as usual. This was a very fun movie. Clive Owen adding the "straight humor" gig was good. His whole thing about wanting to do the pizza companies... very funny.