Duplicity (film)

Duplicity (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tony Gilroy
Produced by Mary Jones
Starring Clive Owen
Julia Roberts
Tom Wilkinson
Paul Giamatti
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Robert Elswit
Editing by John Gilroy
Studio Relativity Media
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) March 10, 2009 (2009-03-10) (London)
March 20, 2009 (2009-03-20) (United States)
Running time 125 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million
Box office $78,146,652[1]

Duplicity is a 2009 American romantic comedy spy film written and directed by Tony Gilroy, and starring Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. The plot follows two corporate spies with a romantic history who collaborate to carry out a complicated con.[2] The film was released on March 20, 2009.[3]



The film opens five years before the present day, showing the Fourth of July celebration at the American consulate in Dubai, where Ray Koval (Clive Owen), an MI6 agent, appears to seduce Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts), who, unbeknownst to him, is a CIA agent. Claire drugs Ray and steals classified documents from him.

The scene cuts to a silent, slow motion brawl on the tarmac (over which the opening credits play) between Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson), the CEO of Burkett & Randle, and Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti), the CEO of Equikrom, illustrating the longstanding rivalry between the two executives.

In the present day, Ray is now a corporate spy in New York City who recently went to work for Equikrom. At a meet, he spots Claire and thinks the mission is blown. Ray follows her and confronts her about the incident in Dubai. Claire puts on an innocent act, pretending she has never met Ray, until they both realize they were supposed to meet. Claire has been working undercover for Equikrom at Burkett & Randle for the past 14 months, and Ray is to be her new handler.

At Burkett & Randle a major development is underfoot, and Tully makes a speech that paints them as innovators defending themselves from duplicity and theft. At Equikrom, Garsik obtains a copy of the speech through Claire and plots to steal whatever Burkett & Randle has developed.

The scene cuts to two years earlier in Rome, where we see Ray and Claire again meeting for the "first" time since Dubai, replaying the same dialog as in NYC. The audience learns that Ray and Claire did not meet at Equikrom by chance--they plan to cheat both companies and sell a corporate secret to the highest bidder. However, neither still completely trusts the other, nor knows who is playing whom.

The team at Equikrom believes Ronny Partiz (Denham), a child prodigy turned genius, might be responsible for Burkett & Randle's new product. Ray and Boris Fetyov (Oleg Stefan) stake out Partiz at a casino in the Bahamas, where Claire and Jeff Bauer (Thomas McCarthy) from Burkett & Randle foil their plans by planting evidence of them cheating the casino.

In return, Tully at Burkett & Randle thanks Claire for successfully defending the company's new product, revealing it to be a cure for baldness. When Bauer is later caught attempting to steal the formula and Claire is left guarding him and the formula by herself, she uses one of the rigged photocopiers at Burkett & Randle to transfer it to Equikrom.

Back at Equikrom, Claire accuses Ray of stealing the formula for himself. He is searched and exposed when it is found. Claire waits at the Zürich airport in Switzerland and when Ray arrives, it is revealed that Claire and Ray were only putting on an act at Equikrom. Each pretends at first they don't have the formula and then Claire confesses she loves Ray and says they are each the only one who can ever understand the other. Claire proposes they each reveal what they have on the count of three but Ray says he loves Claire back by saying first that he had another copy of the formula. Claire admits that she had it too, creating real trust for the first time.

Ray and Claire attempt to sell the formula to a Swiss company for $35 million. Meanwhile, Garsik tells his shareholders that they are in the final stages of testing for a product that cures baldness. The Swiss, however, say the formula is a fraud. The scene cuts to ten days earlier, where Claire and Ray were practicing the act they would present when it was revealed that Ray would be Claire's handler. Unbeknownst to them, there was a hidden microphone in their room monitoring them. From the beginning, Claire and Ray were being played by Tully and his people. Pam Frailes (Kathleen Chalfant) from Equikrom was really working for Burkett & Randle all along, Partiz was used as the bait, Bauer staged stealing the formula, and the formula never existed at all. It was all a trick to get Garsik to announce he had a revolutionary product, which was in fact just a regular skin cream, and which would ruin Garsik and Equikrom. The film ends with Ray and Claire realizing they have been played by Tully.



Production on Duplicity began in New York City on March 9, 2008, and wrapped shooting on May 27 of that year. Filming locations included Paradise Island in the Bahamas for the casino shots, New York City including the West Village (Manhattan), Trafalgar Square in London and outside the Pantheon in Rome.


The film was released on March 19, 2009 in Australia and on March 20 in the US and the UK.[4] It had its world premiere on March 11, 2009 at London's Leicester Square.[5]


The film received mixed to positive reviews from film critics. Based on 166 reviews, it garnered a 65% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[6]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "Duplicity is entertaining, but the complexities of its plot keep it from being really involving: When nothing is as it seems, why care?", but admitted that "the fun is in watching Roberts and Owen fencing with dialogue, keeping straight faces, trying to read each other's minds".[7]

In his review for The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris wrote, "So what has gone wrong with Duplicity? I can only go with my gut feeling: that Mr. Gilroy has outsmarted himself by pulling too many switches in his narrative. He then fails to recover by coming up with a smash ending that pulls all the scattered pieces together".[8] Scott Foundas, in his review for the Village Voice, wrote, "Comedy seems to have liberated Gilroy, who directs Duplicity with the high gloss and fleet-footed hustle of a golden-age Hollywood craftsman. There's nary a dull stretch in its two-hour breadth".[9]

Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B" rating and Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, "Gilroy counts on a Thin Man-style undercurrent of sexual sparring to sustain our interest in two scheming corporate operatives despite the fact that nothing much else is going on".[10]

In his review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott praised Julia Roberts' performance: "Ms. Roberts has almost entirely left behind the coltish, America's-sweetheart mannerisms, except when she uses them strategically, to disarm or confuse. Curvier than she used to be and with a touch of weariness around her eyes and impatience in her voice, she is, at 41, unmistakably in her prime".[11]

Sukhdev Sandhu, in his review for The Daily Telegraph, wrote, "Duplicity is really all about Roberts and Owen. They're con artists, but they don't fool us. Their pairing here feels duplicitous. Gilroy, it seems, is better at thrilling audiences than he is at seducing them".[12] However, not all reviews were positive; Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film two and a half stars out of four and said "Gilroy and his stars make it elegant fun to be fooled, but they sure as hell make you work for it."[13]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Recipient(s) Outcome
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress, Musical/Comedy Julia Roberts Nominated

Home media

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on August 25, 2009.


  1. ^ "Duplicity (2009)". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=duplicity.htm. Retrieved November 28, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Roberts, Owen reteam for 'Duplicity'". Variety. October 31, 2007. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117975169.html?categoryid=1876&cs=1&query=duplicity. Retrieved March 16, 2009. 
  3. ^ allmovie ((( Duplicity > Overview )))
  4. ^ "Release dates for Duplicity". IMDb. March 26, 2009. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1135487/releaseinfo. Retrieved March 26, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Julia & Clive - Duplicity World Premiere". Empireonline. March 11, 2009. http://www.empireonline.com/news/feed.asp?NID=24353. Retrieved March 26, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Duplicity (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/duplicity_2009/. Retrieved November 28, 2009. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 18, 2009). "Duplicity". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090318/REVIEWS/903189997. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  8. ^ Sarris, Andrew (March 17, 2009). "Duplicity Duped Me!". The New York Observer. http://www.observer.com/2009/movies/duplicity-duped-me. Retrieved March 18, 2009. 
  9. ^ Foundas, Scott (March 17, 2009). "Tony Gilroy's (Heretofore Unseen) Expert Light Touch in Duplicity". Village Voice. http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-03-18/film/tony-gilroy-s-heretofore-unseen-expert-light-touch-in-duplicity/. Retrieved March 18, 2009. 
  10. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (March 18, 2009). "Duplicity". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20266395,00.html. Retrieved March 19, 2009. 
  11. ^ Scott, A. O. (March 20, 2009). "Effervescent Espionage With Two Irresistible Forces". The New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/03/20/movies/20dupl.html. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  12. ^ Sandhu, Sukhdev (March 20, 2009). "Duplicity". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/5016473/Duplicity-with-Julia-Roberts-and-Clive-Owen-review.html. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  13. ^ Travers, Peter (March 19, 2009). "Duplicity: Review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 28, 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/5lc5ZqstS. Retrieved November 28, 2009. 

External links

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