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Movie Review

Duplicity a.k.a. “Dupla Sedução,” “Duplicidade,” “Duplicity—Gemeinsame Geheimsache,” “Adiakrisies,” “Kaksinaamaista peliä”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some sexual content.

Reviewed by: Mia J. Best

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Thriller, Drama
2 hr. 05 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 20, 2009 (wide—2,400 theaters)
DVD: August 25, 2009
Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Featuring: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti, Dan Daily, Lisa Roberts Gillan, David Shumbris, Rick Worthy, Oleg Stefan, Denis O'Hare, Kathleen Chalfant, Khan Baykal, Thomas McCarthy, Wayne Duvall, Fabrizio Brienza, Lucia Grillo, Carrie Preston, Conan McCarty, Kirby Mitchell, Christopher Denham, Christopher Mann, Seth Kirschner, Karl Bury, Happy Anderson, James Cronin, Esther Pringle, Mary Anne Prevost, Annabel Seymour, Sandy Hamilton, Ulrich Thomsen, Helen Elswit, Samantha Stark
Director: Tony Gilroy
Producer: Laura Bickford Productions, Medienproduktion Poseidon Filmgesellschaft, Relativity Media, Universal Pictures, Laura Bickford, Jennifer Fox, John Gilroy, Kerry Orent
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Outwit. Outspy. Outsmart. Outplay. Then get out.”

“Duplicity” lives up to its name in this crime caper where trying to figure out who’s working for who is half the fun. CLAIRE (Julia Roberts) and RAY (Clive Owen) are spies working for different agencies when they fall for each other and eventually plan a scheme to get out of the game. They infiltrate two rival companies with a master plan. The trouble is, they have trust issues.

Director/Writer Tony Gilroy (“The Bourne Identity”) begins the film with an odd slow motion scene over jazz music showing two rival CEOs in a confrontation that resembles something out of WWE. This sets the quirky tone of the film. Gilroy begins the story of CLAIRE and RAY in 2003, advances five years to the present time, then reveals more of the plot through a series of strategically placed flashbacks. The dialogue is witty and quick, with characters often overlapping each other’s lines creating a jazz-like rhythm.

Roberts and Owen both give solid performances creating a warm, but not intense, chemistry as on screen love interests. Owen portrayed RAY’s intelligence along with his vulnerability with light and shade that made the character more believable. Other stand out performances include Paul Giamatti as RICHARD GARSIK, an obsessively competitive CEO and his rival HOWARD TULLY played equally strong by Tom Wilkinson.

Duplicity is an entertaining, glossy, glamorous crime caper, with international locales, a jet-setting undercover spy couple and groovy music. On the Biblical morality meter, however, it falls in rank for repeatedly using the Lord’s name in vain, profanity, sexual innuendo and some brief nudity. Specifically, RAY bares his chest in two scenes and CLAIRE bares her back lying in bed next to RAY. Most of their scenes together are fully clothed and focused on their dialogue, however.

One major moral issue of films like Duplicity (and Ocean’s Eleven and The Thomas Crown Affair) is the presentation of criminals as charismatic, funny and attractive, endearing the character to the audience and thereby lessening the impact of the actual crimes they commit.

These charismatic criminals remind me of the “seductress” or “strange woman” described in both Proverbs chapter six and seven. Each chapter warns you to hold to God’s word so you won’t be lured by the seductress’ flattering words.

Both CLAIRE and RAY practice deception through seduction, which is one reason they cannot trust each other. They lie for a living and can’t seem to turn the switch off when it comes to their relationship. In John 8:44, Jesus identifies the source of all

lies as the devil. The later part of that verse says, “…When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” The Bible clearly instructs believers to stop lying. In Colossians 3:9 (The Message) it says, “Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire.”

I believe mature adult audiences can see this movie and be entertained with a caution to the glamorization of crime and lovers outside of marriage. But I cannot recommend it due to using the Lord’s name in vain and profanity.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This is an extremely confusing movie to follow. It was sort of fun, since there was no violence—no killings, no real meanness. The pace was nice, the main characters were quite appealing, albeit obviously having an affair for many years. But the plot was very difficult to follow. Because there was no violence or horrible elements—mostly corporate greed and deceit—I found this to be a fairly attractive and appealing spy caper, with a light tone to it. I am sure in reality corporate theft can be a very deadly business, but in this film, it was treated with humor.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Halyna Barannik, age 63 (USA)
Positive—This movie was somewhat hard to follow, but, overall, a great one to go see. The flashbacks can be confusing, but at least it is a movie that keeps you on your toes and gets you thinking. There was really nothing out of line concerning nudity or language. Anything that was sexual was implied, and there are only 3 instances of this that occur briefly. I would have gone / would go with my pastor or anyone from my church knowing that we would watch an interesting film that is in fact, better than average.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kristen, age 20 (USA)


Negative—“Duplicity” is a huge disappointment. The commercials lead you to believe it is a romantic comedy similar to other Julia Roberts movies. Unfortunately, the movie’s ending leaves you discouraged and destroys the otherwise entertaining escapism that it could have been. The movie does contain several sexual situations, but only once briefly shows a side view of female nudity. The language is better than average for a movie of this type. If you want a funny, light, romantic comedy, don’t go see Duplicity or you will be the one duped.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—CJ, age 48 (USA)
Negative—My wife and I viewed this film today. We both found it difficult to follow the exceptionally strange plot with flashbacks to days and years before. The ending is unusual and weak, and the offensive use of Christ’s name occurs often. Joking references to and strong hints to copulation make this film one that youngsters should not view. Julia Roberts deserves better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Ken Liska, age 79 (USA)
Comments from young people