|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 24 August 2009|
The film stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen in a caper that keeps you on your toes from beginning to end. It takes quite a while into the film to figure out what the characters are trying to accomplish and all is not reveal until the final moments of the film. It is much akin to "The Thomas Crown Affair."
Julia Roberts plays Claire, a con woman who works in intelligence. Clive Owens is Ray, a con man also working in intelligence. The two meet in the opening of the film, which quickly moves on to a slow motion fight between two executives. Basically, the opening is very confusing. It is a borderline opening. It comes quite near to the notion that you have no idea what is going on that you just about lose interest. However, don't stop watching, it gets better.
As it turns out, Ray and Claire have been secretly meeting for the past several years, ever since their first encounter. The two do not trust each other implicitly. Everything that comes out of their mouths is a challenge to the other. The pair survives solely on this battle of wits. When it finally ends they have to decide whether the relationship is worth it.
Claire and Ray plan to leave the intelligence arena and find a big score that would allow them to lead their challenging lives. They plan on finding a foothold in a corporate struggle. Claire joins the counterintelligence unit of a company specializing in beauty products; shampoo, lotions, creams, etc. Ray joins the other side so that the two can control the outcome of corporate battle, thus taking all the money and running.
The fact that the filmmakers used beauty care as the basis of the two corporations is ingenious. It keeps the tensions somewhat comical. There is a comical undertone to the entire film. Come the end of the film you will probably be laughing. The ending is highly original. Whatever you expect to happen, it isn't going to. Just wait and see. For some the ending may be a let down, but if it went the other way then the film would be too cheesy. Trust me when I say that the way the film ends is the only way.
Owen and Roberts have terrific chemistry on screen. Their back and forth banter is both comical and sexy. The film is written and directed by Tony Gilroy. His only other directing credit is "Michael Clayton," which was also regarded as a great film. Gilroy has had numerous writer credits that demonstrate is practice at creating this type of caper. His previous writing credits include the Bourne films, "The Devil's Advocate" and also the simultaneously released "State of Play."
"Duplicity" arrives on Blu-ray with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and a VC-1 encode. The video transfer is good, but a bit uneven. The contrast is normally overblown. This is especially true of the opening sequence in Dubai and the Rome sequences. However, other bright exterior shots have a perfect contrast/brightness balance. Film grain is minimal. The black levels a deep, however they are sometimes crushed. Details and textures are strong. Shadow delineation is revealing for the most part, however there are several sequences in which shadows absorb the details. Colors are popping. The most distracting items in the video transfer are the edges. Suit jackets are consistently outlined by halos. The fuzzy nature of the edges is quite distracting. I would have almost preferred edge enhancement.
The audio track is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The audio starts off a bit rocky. The balance between dialogue and ambience was startling off. Then when the corporate executive battle sequence takes place the overall volume of the track changes. The entire audio track is mastered lower than calibration level. The frequency response of the dialogue is hit and miss, but the music and effects stems are full range. The music is nicely recorded in 5.1, filling the soundscape completely. The music score is definitely the best part of the audio track. The rear channels is reserved mainly for the music, but occasionally discreet effects pop up in the surrounds. Ambience is generally good in the rear channels. The city atmosphere is nicely placed around the soundfield. The fluctuation in the caliber of the dialogue is my biggest concern with the audio. Also, the LFE channel is hardly noticeable in the track. This is most definitely an upgrade over a compressed audio track, but it still lacks awe-inspiring presence.
There is only one special feature on this Blu-ray disc, an audio commentary with director Tony Gilroy and editor John Gilroy. This is a very bland audio commentary for the amount of twists and turns in the story. I would think the writer would have a lot more enthusiasm about this creation than what is given. I would advise skipping the commentary. The disc is BD-Live enabled for downloading of additional content.
"Duplicity" is a smart and entertaining film. It is a bit rough around the edges, which keeps it from a higher rating. The video transfer is decent but needs to be kicked up a notch. The audio transfer is slightly better than the video quality, but also lacks that pizzazz. I still have to recommend this film as one to add to your collection.